Feminist Research Methodology In Health Care and Nursing

Afza.Malik GDA

Nursing Research and Feministic Methods

Feminist Research Methodology In Health Care and Nursing

What is Feminist Research Methodology,Women Health As A Research Concern,Sample Collection in Women Research,Need of Feministic Environment ,Biases,Facts About Quantitative Research.

What is Feminist Research Methodology

    Feminist research methodology refers to a perspective that spouses research on women, by women, and for women, with the use of rules for gathering evidence where by feminist principles are applied to research. 

    Feminist research methodology does not seek merely to be nonsexist, but to take person's lived experience as the methodological starting point for all knowledge development efforts bearing on girls and women. This means refusing to rely solely on the loosely structured beliefs that pass for "givens" or "common sense" truths about the phenomenon under study.

    By refusing to assume beforehand that any beliefs about women's experiences are necessarily true, the expectation is that the researcher is better prepared to see clearly, to be critical, and to complete a systematic investigation of their diseases. 

    In women's health research it is difficult to rely on data from earlier studies of the menstrual cycle, exercise, or child rearing because of the many recent changes in the social context. 

    For example, the notion that the "empty nest" is associated with depression in midlife women is a conceptualization that was embedded in a world where the majority of women did not work outside the family.

Women Health As A Research Concern

    In the past 3 decades, women's health research as a subset of women's studies has become distinct and with it an emphasis both on conducting nonsexist research (eg, checking traditional biases) and on asserting a new sensitivity that positively values women's points of view and a holistic approach to health. 

    There has been much to criticize in traditional research methods. Methods have not distinguished sex differences from gender-related differences (eg, differences due to lack of opportunity rather than genetic ability) and have overemphasized gender differences when they account for relatively little variance.     

There has been a systematic preference for the so-called objective perspective of the (usually male) researcher over that of the female subject. 

    The actor-observer effect, disclosed in tests of attribution theory, noted that actors make more use of situational attributions than do observers, so it is not surprising that male researchers have described some single mothers as "overprotective" when those mothers would have emphasized the demands placed on them by an absent father. 

    Because women's behavior has traditionally been explained in terms of male-as-norm the- critical frameworks, female behavior has been pejoratively labeled, describing as dependent the woman whose husband is the breadwinner and not labeling in that way the man whose wife bakes the bread, cleans, and cares for their children. 

    Indeed, research on women has been defined largely in terms of childbearing and child rearing.

Sample Collection in Women Research

    Sometimes sample selection has been biased by using women employed in low level positions and men employed in high-status professions to represent employed women and men.     

The possibility that the gender of the experimenter and choice of setting may have differential effects on women and men has been ignored; For example, young male interviewers in a "macho" cardiac rehabilitation setting may not be sensitive to how alien older women feel in such an environment. 

    Inappropriate instruments have been used to evaluate women's behavior, for example, the Masculinity Femininity (Mf) scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory to operationalize femininity in women when the validity items for establishing femininity originally involved a criterion group of gay men.    

    Because "main" effects have been sought over "interaction" effects, women have been excluded from research when they acted in unexpected ways. Feminist research methodology has encouraged some new positive directions: Women have been encouraged to develop research careers. 

    Federal guidelines now require women to be included as subjects in all studies related to their experience, and men are not to be excluded as subjects when the focus is on the traditional concerns of females. 

    Context-stripping methods have been called into question because they ignore the extent to which social integration is associated with lower rates of disease and quality of life; Grounded theory methods have been encouraged because they allow the individual to discuss fully the lived experience. The emphasis is increasingly on doing research with women rather than on women.

Need of Feministic Environment 

    Because one of its basic tenets is the person environment fit, nursing has long been concerned about the importance of context in understanding health behavior. Nurses were among the first to question a preference for the so-called objective view of the researcher over the subjective view of the patient and to emphasize the lived experience. 

    They took the lead in menstrual cycle research, which underscored the extent to which there is more to midlife women's health than menopause, and in the use of the diary/health journal as a way to analyze the complexity of women's reality. 

    The establishment of the National Center for Nursing Research in 1986, along with the concurrent growth of doctoral nursing programs, meant that there were more women scientists to seriously approach women's health and caregiving (rather than cure-finding) research. 

    Nursing has also extended the notion of a feminist research methodology to include the development of a feminist pedagogy in teaching.


Although nonsexist research methods have gained ground when judged in terms of the most egregious biases, and the concerns of women are no longer automatically given short shutters, the prevailing scientific model still reifies an empiricist, positivist, objective paradigm. 

    Feminist researchers have challenged the very nature of science and how we search for knowledge, but reductionism remains dominant in the sciences. It remains true that context-stripping methods are easier to implement, particularly for the beginning researcher who does not have the skills to handle multifactorial designs.

Facts About Quantitative Research

    Matters are complicated by the fact that some qualitative researchers discuss their approach with more enthusiasm for their methods than specificity about why their methods are appropriate to explore a particular phenomenon. 

    Even feminists have tended to treat women as a monolithic group, thus ignoring the special concerns of minority women, who are even more affected by contextual matters (eg, poverty, violence, and racism) than their White sisters. There remains a significant discrepancy between the methods espoused by feminist researchers and those actually used. 

    Nevertheless, the future will increasingly demand that health researchers use biopsychosocial models to frame their programs of study and develop new ways of analyzing human experience within interlocking contexts.


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