1. Connor-Floyd, Cynthia MSN, RN

Article Content

Listening to Patients: A Phenomenological Approach to Nursing Research and Practice. Sandra P. Thomas and Howard R. Pollio Springer Publishing Company, 536 Broadway, New York, NY 10012; (212) 431-4370, toll free (817) 687-7476, fax (212) 941-7842, ISBN 0-8261-1466-0, 2002, hard cover, 294 pp., $41.95, outside US $46.80.


Phenomenology, a theory based on the writings of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, was the basis of research methodology represented in the qualitative studies the authors presented and reviewed. A philosophy based on the primacy of perception and the directional nature of human experience, the book delves deeply into the interpretation and analysis of an individual's dialogical interview of an event.


After a brief discussion of the background and defense of the use of this theoretical construct, the authors present interview techniques, sample selection, and the interpretive process. The concept of body image is discussed in relation to its objective state and its subjective being. As examples of the usefulness of this qualitative process, discussion is extensive and sometimes technically laborious on the interpretation of alteration in body image, the examination of the experience of chronic pain, the experience of a family member with an eating disorder, and a husband's perspective on postpartum depression. Background literature is reviewed, methodology is related, findings are presented, and conclusions of the studies are described.


A phenomenological discussion of the concepts of both time and perception of the world is also provided in study presentations. Some areas discussed include stroke, physical abuse, and loss of freedom because of hospitalization.


In their conclusions, the authors reflect on the need for change in philosophical commitments in nursing. They defend the use of this philosophical approach to nursing research adequately for such a complex and empirical process. As difficult as the subject is to discuss, it was also difficult at times to understand conceptually. Although an interesting alternative to traditional nursing theory, the content appears to be more appropriate for the advanced clinician.