Using narrative inquiry with older people to inform practice and service developments

J Clin Nurs. 2012 Mar;21(5-6):841-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03851.x. Epub 2011 Sep 21.


Aim: The aim of the study was to examine the usefulness of narratives of older peoples' hospitalisation experiences as a focus for informing practice and service developments.

Background: Narrative inquiry provides an option for exploring personal experiences and for providing insight into treatment decisions that can help guide how healthcare services are developed and provided.

Methods: Participants were aged 65 and upwards and had been patients in a rehabilitation unit. They were cognitively and physically able to communicate and give consent to take part in the study. Narrative interviewing methods were used for data collection. A problem-solution pattern framework enabled the reconfiguring of narratives in the context of the older persons' past, the here and now and the context of their usual level of well-being or ill-being. Seminars with multidisciplinary professionals were used to analyse the narratives in the context of how they informed the need for practice and service developments.

Results: Twenty-eight narrative interviews were undertaken. Through reading and discussing the reconfigured narratives, the multidisciplinary team evaluated whether care procedures were appropriate and identified ways of improving care delivery. Challenges to the integration of narrative approaches were identified. Narrative interviewing was implemented in practice by some of the nurses who participated in the study.

Conclusions: Narrative inquiry enhances the assessment of care needs and interactions between healthcare professionals and patients. The framework used for translating stories into plans for practice and service developments needs to be used in further studies and with a broader range of healthcare and social care professionals to determine its usefulness.

Relevance to clinical practice: Narrative inquiry is a valuable methodology for understanding older peoples' experiences of health care. Stories developed from older peoples' hospitalisation experiences are a useful basis for identifying aspects of practice that could be developed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Communication
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Care Reform
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Narration*
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity