A case for the use of autoethnography in nursing research

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Abstract

Aims.

This paper discusses the basis for and potential usefulness of autoethnography as a research method in nursing.

Background.

While qualitative research in nursing has traditionally involved the researcher taking an objective stance, autoethnography, with roots in the social sciences, is an emerging method that examines the researcher'sown experience in a cultural context.

Design.

Discussion paper.

Data sources.

Data sources from 1979–2013 in the CINAHL, Medline and PsycInfo databases were drawn on including articles from nursing and social science journals on autoethnography and related narrative-based approaches.

Discussion.

Autoethnography is based on the assumption that reality is multifaceted and the role of culture and context is crucial in understanding human experience. The reader is engaged through the evocation of emotion and the stimulation of reflection.

Implications for nursing.

While autoethnography has thus far been little used in the discipline of nursing, it is a methodology that offers novel insights and an opportunity to examine the impact of nurses' personal and professional cultural identity on their practice.

Conclusion.

Through the use of a subjective lens, autoethnography gives nurses the opportunity to tell stories that would otherwise not be heard. It involves a courageous laying bare of the self to gain new cultural understandings and it offers the potential for nurses to learn from the experiences and reflections of other nurses.

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