Buy this Article for $10.95

Have a coupon or promotional code? Enter it here:

When you buy this you'll get access to the ePub version, a downloadable PDF, and the ability to print the full article.


critical care, grounded theory methods, intensive care, naturalistic inquiry



  1. Happ, Mary Beth
  2. Kagan, Sarah H.


Background: The context of critical care and human phenomena involved in critical illness offer rich opportunity for nursing research. Naturalistic investigation with grounded theory methods can uncover previously unexamined elements and interactions in the critical care setting.


This article presents methodological considerations for conducting grounded theory research in fast-paced physiologically and technologically complex critical care settings.


Approach: Critique and recommendations are based in review and analysis of grounded theory research in adult critical care settings and on the literature describing grounded theory methods. The authors' experiences in medical and surgical intensive care units provide added practical context for this article.


Results: Barriers to achieving grounded theory in critical care settings, such as communication impairments, participant attrition, and observational difficulties, are explored. Methodological strategies and data sources particular to critical care settings are also discussed. Critical care settings offer a variety of data sources that should be rigorously pursued in grounded theory research.


Discussion: Given current trends in healthcare treatments and demographics, future research must examine physiological and technological data as integral components of basic social psychological or social structural processes in critical care interactions and should include technology as a component of nurse-patient interaction.