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The wise choice of the postmodern tradition of hermeneutic phenomenology for nursing research is partly dependent upon an awareness of that tradition's base of philosophical hermeneutics The origins of this philosophy within the work of Heidegger and especially Gadamer are detailed with an explanation of some major concepts intrinsic to their hermeneutic writings Subsequently an analysis is offered of the ontological, epistemological and methodological perspectives of the tradition which is considered thereby to reside within an interpretivist/constructivist paradigm of inquiry The contemporary use within the discipline of nursing of hermeneutic phenomenology is discussed, and the growing trend for using the tradition, across continents, is identified However the question is posed as to whether all such research is accurately identified as belonging to the tradition A further analysis suggests that hermeneutic phenomenology will increasingly be applied to the research of nursing phenomena