The Shining Stranger: Application of the phenomenological method in the investigation of the nurse family spiritual relationship

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Abstract

Although many nurses and families may develop a spiritual relationship, a review of the literature showed few studies and scant literature addressing this topic. Furthermore, no studies were identified that used methodologies that provide descriptions and understanding of the meaning of this phenomenon. This article describes the application of the phenomenological method in the investigation of the meaning of a spiritual relationship between families and their nurses in a hospice setting. The phenomenological method can be used to uncover the meaning of experience through respondents ‘ descriptions. Transcripts of interviews in which 11 nurses and 12 families were asked to describe their hospice experience were analyzed using Giorgi's approach to Husserlian phenomenology. Descriptions of nurse-family relationships were identified and synthesized into five thematic structures of experience: nurses' ways of being; nurses' ways of doing; nurses' ways of knowing; ways of receiving and giving; and ways of welcoming a stranger. The thematic structures of experience were synthesized into and interpreted as a metaunity of meaning. Through reflection, the unity of meaning was intuited as “The Shining Stranger. ” Analysis of selected Eastern and Western religious literature provided exemplars and a characterization of the shining stranger. Implications of the application of the phenomenological method are discussed.

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