Storytelling and the interpretation of meaning in qualitative research
Article first published online: 24 SEP 2008
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 38, Issue 6, pages 574–583, June 2002
How to Cite
Bailey, P. H. and Tilley, S. (2002), Storytelling and the interpretation of meaning in qualitative research. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 38: 574–583. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2000.02224.x
- Issue published online: 24 SEP 2008
- Article first published online: 24 SEP 2008
- Submitted for publication 12 October 2001 Accepted for publication 14 March 2002
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
- narrative analysis;
- qualitative paradigm;
Aim. This paper reviews literature on narrative analysis and illustrates the meaning-making function of stories of chronic illness through analysis and discussion of two case studies from a study of acute episodes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Background. Individuals living with COPD experience acute exacerbations characterized by extreme dyspnea, but there has been little research to provide understanding of these events from the perspectives of individuals with COPD, family caregivers, and nurses. Narrative analysis – considered in the context of the aims of qualitative research – illuminates how these people make sense of acute exacerbation events by telling stories.
Design and methods. In an ethnographic study, 10 patient–family nurse units in two Canadian general hospitals participated in interviews concerning acute episodes of COPD. Narrative analysis enabled identification of several story forms and their functions.
Results. Examples were found of a story told twice with different meanings, and of a patient's ‘death story’ used to communicate distrust of the nurse's ability to recognize the seriousness of distress and implications for its potential course. These examples are presented, and interpreted with respect to issues of meaning.
Conclusions. The analysis indicates that stories told by patients in the context of nurse–client interactions inform understanding of the individual's acute exacerbation events beyond the biophysical.