Lived Observations: Linking the Researcher's Personal Experiences to Knowledge Development

Qual Health Res. 2015 Nov;25(11):1589-98. doi: 10.1177/1049732315573011. Epub 2015 Feb 23.


As researchers in palliative care, we recognize how involvement with seriously ill and dying persons has an impact on us. Using one's own senses, emotional and bodily responses in observations might open intersubjective dimensions of the research topic. The aim of the article is to highlight how phenomenological theories on intersubjectivity can be useful to develop rich and transparent data generation and analysis. We present three field note examples from observation in a hospice ward, which illuminate how researcher awareness of aspects of intersubjectivity can add valuable insights to data and analysis. Out of the examples, we elaborate on three arguments: (a) how the researcher's lived experience of time and space during fieldwork triggers new research questions, (b) how observations as an embodied activity can bring new insights and open new layers of meaning, and (c) the value of observations in gaining insight into relational aspects in a hospice.

Keywords: death and dying; emotions / emotion work; lived experience; observations; phenomenology; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Personal Narrative
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death*
  • Hospice Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Preceptorship
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Personnel / psychology*
  • Thanatology*