Phenomenological approaches: challenges and choices

Nurse Res. 2011;18(2):7-18. doi: 10.7748/nr2011.


Phenomenology is a recognised approach for investigating experiences in health research. Difficulties regarding the approach, however, have been documented with even the definitions and terminology sometimes being unclear. In addition to this, there have been claims that many nurse researchers have failed to report how the gap between philosophically related theory and research practice is managed. While legitimacy can be increased by claims regarding theoretical location, there have also been suggestions that engaging too intensely in methodological awareness can hinder the practice and progress of a research project. A balance is therefore required. This article concentrates on the dilemmas and challenges facing a researcher looking for an appropriate method and approach for a study investigating the experiences of stroke survivors. The challenges of using phenomenology as a research method and the approach of interpretative phenomenological analysis are further considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nursing Research / methods*
  • Stroke / psychology