Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

The Use of Phenomenology in Nursing Education: An Integrative Review

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

The Use of Phenomenology in Nursing Education: An Integrative Review

Article excerpt

Phenomenology, the study of an individual's lived experience, aims to gather a deeper understanding of the nature and meaning of everyday experiences (Van Manen, 1900). The phenomenological approach can be utilized as a philosophy and a framework for research (Lopez & Willis, 2004; Mapp, 2008). From a philosophical perspective, phenomenology guides researchers in exploring and understanding the experiences of individuals (Converse, 2012) and is appropriate for conducting research related to nursing (Rapport & Wainwright, 2006). To have methodologies that are consistent and significant, it is important to examine the philosophy of phenomenology before conducting phenomenological research (Converse, 2012).

Husserl's phenomenology emphasized a way of coming to know through the experience of a phenomenon (experiential epistemology) with a goal of describing the experience of the phenomenon (Converse, 2012). Husserlian phenomenology in nursing education brings about a sense of empathy and connectedness to individuals exploring the phenomenon. As Husserlian phenomenology brings forth the pure meaning of the phenomenon to gain a clear understanding by describing the experience (Converse, 2012; Flood, 2010), the name descriptive phenomenology was developed (Dowling, 2007).

Heidegger's phenomenology, on the other hand, focused on the meaning of being (Prolifroni & Welch, 1999). Heideggerian phenomenology suggests that the focus should be on the meaning of being a human in the world versus focusing on the phenomenon. In Heideggerian phenomenology, also known as interpretive phenomenology, human beings experience and interpret the world they live in (Heidegger, 1962). With Heideggerian phenomenology, the experience requires more than a description; it must be understood before it can be interpreted and shared.

The purpose of this integrative review is to summarize the importance of Husserlian phenomenology in nursing education. Phenomenology and nursing research have the same focus: to explore and understand the individual's experiences (Cohen, 2000). For example, phenomenology has a good fit with nursing philosophy and nursing art, which allows nurse educators the opportunity to investigate the experience of individuals in their environment and the meaning of that experience (Lopez & Willis, 2004). In phenomenology, inquiry is fundamental to sound nursing practice (Lopez & Willis, 2004).

The article reports on an integrative review of the nursing literature conducted to evaluate the importance of Husserlian phenomenology in nursing education. The following research questions were addressed: 1) How has Husserlian phenomenology been used in nursing education? 2) What is its importance in nursing education?


The integrative review method described by Whittemore and Knafl (2005) was utilized to guide the review process. An integrative review is the broadest type of review. It incorporates qualitative and quantitative (experimental and nonexperimental) research methods in order to understand fully the phenomenon of concern, and it may incorporate empirical and theoretical data. An integrative review allows the researcher to explore and analyze the literature to gain a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon (Whittemore & Knafl, 2005).

Integrative reviews may contribute to nursing education by heightening nursing science, research, practice, and policy initiatives; theory development in nursing; and evidence-based practice for nursing. Whittemore and Knafl (2005) identified a five-step process for conducting an integrative review: problem identification, literature search, data evaluation, data analysis, and presentation to display the findings.

Literature Search

A literature search was conducted to identify relevant data related to phenomenology in nursing education. A comprehensive computerized database search was conducted using Boolean operator "AND" and "OR" in Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health Sources, MEDLINE, and Academic Search Complete. …

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