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Heidegger, hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology, qualitative data analysis



  1. Crist, Janice D.
  2. Tanner, Christine A.


Background: Although hermeneutical interpretive phenomenological methodology has been used in many nursing research studies, reports of findings are generally not specific regarding the analysis, or "interpretive process," of this methodology.


Approach: The purpose of this article is to assist researchers in analyzing interviews and observations, as part of hermeneutical interpretive phenomenology. In this article the interpretive process is explained, illustrated by examples from a recent research study.


Results: Other facets of the methodology including research question development, sampling issues, and interview and observation methods are briefly reviewed.


Discussion: Approaching the interpretive process as systematically as possible within a nonlinear methodology streamlines and clarifies interpretations of the interview data.


Hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology, based on Heideggerian philosophy (Allen, Benner, & Diekelmann, 1986;Heidegger, 1962; 1975), is a qualitative research methodology used when the research question asks for meanings of a phenomenon with the purpose of understanding the human experience. Reports usually focus on results (e.g., Diekelmann & Ironside, 1998a;SmithBattle, 1995;Tanner, Benner, Chesla, & Gordon, 1993; [see also several studies reported in the text edited by Patricia Benner, 1994]). Some authors compare or debate the merits of various phenomenological methodologies (Draucker, 1999;Koch, 1995;Maggs-Rapport, 2000;Reed, 1994). Except for brief descriptions of the analysis, or "interpretive process" of hermeneutic phenomenology (Benner, Tanner, & Chesla, 1996;Diekelmann & Ironside, 1998b;Gullickson, 1993;Leonard, 1994), analytic methodology is not extant in the literature. The purpose of this article is to provide a step-by-step guide to the interpretive process, with the caveat that the process is iterative and not linear. The philosophical background, research question development and sampling issues, and interview and observation methods, as they pertain to the interpretive process, are reviewed. Philosophical underpinnings are integrated with concrete aspects of interpretive methods. Throughout the article, methods are exemplified by using a study that was designed to shed light on what receiving family care in the home meant to elders (Crist, 2000).