• qualitative research;
  • nursing;
  • interventions;
  • sexual teaching;
  • developing interventions;
  • qualitative field study;
  • support;
  • information;
  • gynaecological cancer

A method to develop a nursing intervention: the contribution of qualitative studies to the process

Aim of the paper. To describe how to develop a patient-centred nursing intervention (NI).

Background. The stimulus for scrutinizing methods and techniques to develop a NI was a research project concerning the contribution of information and support to the sexual adaptation of women with gynaecological cancer. Within this project, a NI for sexual teaching (ST) was developed because the literature review revealed no tested NI for this purpose. How patients experience and perceive received information influences the usefulness and efficacy of a teaching intervention. Qualitative methods provide insight and understanding of patients’ experience. Consequently, qualitative methods are appropriate to use when developing interventions that aim to influence patients’ situations through the provision of information.

Method. Previously reported approaches for developing an intervention did not match the goals and underlying premises identified for the intervention under development. An alternative method, consisting of a design phase and a testing phase, was developed. The goal of the design phase was to develop a working definition of the intervention and to formulate recommendations for carrying out the intervention. Written guidelines provided concrete examples of the topics to discuss and how to discuss them. During the design phase, a qualitative study was conducted to describe the lived-experience of the phenomenon that the information should influence, namely sexuality after treatment for gynaecological cancer. In the testing phase, a different type of qualitative study took place. The patients’ experience of receiving information and the nurses’ experience of providing it were investigated in order to refine the proposed intervention, to identify the results patients hope to achieve (or achieved) and to explore the underlying theoretical explanation of the intervention. During the testing phase, the feasibility and acceptability of the modified intervention were both established.

Conclusion. Even when the starting point is advice from care-givers, an intervention can be developed that is in harmony with the patient perspective when qualitative studies are part of the process.