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communication, dementia, palliative care, poetic inquiry, qualitative research



  1. Tarbi, Elise C.
  2. Morgan, Brianna


Background: The voices of people living with serious, life-limiting illnesses are often underrepresented in research. Furthermore, a biomedical bias toward treatment and stigma associated with illness prevents healthcare providers from engaging with topics critical for people living with serious illness, such as existential communication and inner strength. Poetry is an established method of analysis and dissemination in qualitative research but is underutilized by nursing researchers.


Objectives: The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the inherent opportunities in using poetry in nursing research to highlight the voices and issues of people whose experiences are outside the assumed norms of the biomedical paradigm.


Methods: We apply methods of poetic analysis to qualitative data sets that highlight the voice of people living with serious illness-in naturally occurring palliative care conversations and dyadic interviews of people with dementia and their care partners. Methods of poetic analysis include poetic transcription and voice poems.


Results: Methods of poetic analysis allowed us to engage with the data reflexively to intensify and evoke the deeper meaning of narratives. Poetic analysis served to center the participant's voices by using their own words to demonstrate themes. Poems are a uniquely accessible method of disseminating complex findings, as poems relay layered cognitive and emotional meaning resonant of universal human experiences in a concise and relatable format.


Discussion: Especially in circumstances where participant's voices are underrepresented, poetic analysis enables nurse researchers to challenge normative assumptions and reimagine a difference-centered society. Our findings offer opportunities to incorporate poetry into clinical and research nursing training to better meet the needs of the populations we serve.