Grounded Theory In Nursing Research

Afza.Malik GDA

Nursing Research and Ground Theory

Grounded Theory In Nursing Research

Grounded Theory,Concerns of Ground Theory,Ground Theory and Other Methods,Focus of Ground Theories,How Ground Theory Differ From Other,Outcomes of Ground Theories.

Grounded Theory

    Grounded theory refers to a method of qualitative research which seeks to explain variations in social interactional and social structural problems and processes. The goal is to generate theory from the data and resulting conceptual schema. 

    The grounded theory approach presumes the possibility of discovering fundamental patterns in all of social life, called core variables or basic social processes (Hutchinson, 1993; Wilson, H., 1993). 

    According to its sociologist originators, Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1967), grounded theories should be relevant and work to explain, predict, and be modified by social phenomena under study. Data are not forced to fit existing theories but rather are used to develop rich, dense, complex analytic frameworks.

Concerns of Ground Theory

    Grounded theory as an original mode of inquiry oriented to the discovery of meaning 1 emerged from the social philosophy of symbolic interactionism and an intellectual tradition in social science called pragmatism. Both  emphasize:

(a) the importance of qualitative fieldwork in data collection in order to ground theory in reality.

(b) the nature of experience as a process of continuous change.

(c) the interrelationships among conditions, interpretive meaning, and action . Knowledge is viewed as relative to particular contextual circumstances. 

    Such a worldview  was in contrast to the dominant paradigm that emphasized stability and regularities in social life. Grounded theory, as a qualitative, non-mathematical analytical process is particularly well suited to nursing studies that are conducted to uncover the nature of clinically relevant phenomena such as chronic illness, care-giving, and dying in real world rather than laboratory conditions. 

    The resulting theoretical formulation not only explains human experience and associated meanings but also can provide a basis for nursing intervention research and nursing practice.

Ground Theory and Other Methods

    The influence of grounded theory methods has been particularly striking in the evolution of nursing research because Glaser and Strauss, who developed the method, were professors in the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, starting in the 1960s. 

    Consequently, many of the seminal methodological references and landmark publications of findings in the nursing literature can be traced to nursing doctoral students who studied and collaborated with them in the 1970s and 1980s. Subsequently, those early colleagues mentored cohorts of other nurse researchers. 

    Several nurse researchers, including Jeanne Benoliel , Juliet Corbin, Sally Hutchinson, and Holly Wilson, have been leaders in the application, articulation, and dissemination of the use of grounded theory methods by nursing and other disciplines.

Focus of Ground Theories

    Grounded theories are focused on what may be unarticulated social psychological and social-structural problems and are integrated around the basic social process that is discovered in observational, interview, and document data (Wilson, HS, & Hutchinson , 1996). 

    The researcher does not begin with a preconceived theory and experimentally prove it. Rather, the researcher begins by studying an area under natural conditions. Data are usually derived from qualitative data sources interviews, participant observation (fieldwork), and document analysis although quantitative data can also inform the emerging analysis. 

    Sensitizing questions are asked to learn what is relevant in the situation under study. Sampling is not conducted according to conventions of probability, nor is sample size predetermined. Instead, purposively, theoretical sampling is used so that concepts emerging from the data guide additional data collection.

How Ground Theory Differ From Other

    Doing grounded theory research departs from the typically linear sequence of theory verifying research because data collection and analysis go on simultaneously. As soon as data are available, an orderly, rigorous, constant comparative method of data analysis is initiated. 

    Analysis proceeds through stages of in vivo (or substantive) coding in which themes and patterns are identified in the words of participants themselves, coding for categories in which in vivo codes are clustered together in conceptual categories, and theoretical coding in which relationships among concepts are developed.     

    Memos are written detailing each of the codes and categories and linking them to exemplars from the data. Concepts and propositions that emerge from the data direct subsequent data collection.

    The sample is considered complete when saturation is achieved. Saturation refers to the point at which no new themes, patterns, or concepts appear in the data. Sorting memos (conceptual notes about codes and categories and their data exemplars) into an integrative schema provides an outline for integrating and then reporting the grounded theory discovered.

Outcomes of Ground Theories

    The outcome of analysis is a dense, parsimonious, integrative schema that explains most of the variation in a social psychological situation. Properties, dimensions, categories, strategies, and phases of the theory are inextricably related to the basic social process. 

    Grounded theory may be context bound to a specific substantive area (substantive theory) or may be at a more conceptual level and applicable to diverse settings and experiences (formal theory) (Glaser, B., 1978).

    The grounded theory approach has resonated with a wide variety of social scientists and professional practitioners interested in human experiences with health and illness. In their book, Discovery of Grounded Theory, B. Glaser and Strauss (1967) acknowledged that it was a "beginning venture" and did not offer "clear cut procedures and definitions"

    Over time, grounded theory, as an approach to the generation of theory from data has undergone some major transformations. Some of the changes that were designed to promote rigor in the method have been criticized as diverting the research from generating theory directly from data, for risking theoretical sensitivity in the investigator, and for eroding the method. 

    Others are of the opinion that assuming that grounded theory was taught and conducted from a single unified perspective is erroneous and that the on going discourse among qualitative researchers is part of an intellectual movement essential to grounded theory's refinement and evolution. 

    The hallmarks, however, continue to be data-theory interplay, making constant comparisons, asking theoretically oriented questions, conceptual and theoretical coding, and the development of theory.

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