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«European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431 EMPLOYMENT OF COLAIZZI'S STRATEGY IN ...»

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European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431




Ghada Abu Shosha, PhD

Faculty of Nursing, Zarqa University, Jordan


Background: Phenomenology is a philosophy and a research method designed to explore and

understand people's everyday lived experiences. Aim: This paper aims to convey the experience of using Colaizzi's (1978) strategy of descriptive phenomenological data analysis in a nursing research. Method: Using a real research example, the process of Colaizzi was used to provide assistance in extracting, organizing, and analyzing such narrative dataset.

Results: the eventual outcome sought from applying Colaizzi's strategy in descriptive phenomenology was to elicit an exhaustive description about the phenomenon regarding adolescents' experience after receiving chemotherapy and their coping strategies used to accommodate with physical changes occurred after that therapy. A number of significant statements and theme clusters were integrated to formulate the overall themes which describe the phenomenon thoroughly. Conclusion, the use of Colaizzi's strategy in descriptive phenomenology was successfully evident in this research. Researchers are encouraged to emphasize on enhancing rigor to the study findings through employing different trustworthiness elements throughout their research process.

Keywords: Colaizzi's Strategy, Descriptive Phenomenology, Bracketing, Trustworthiness Introduction The roots of phenomenology are related to early history, to Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, as philosophers struggled to understand phenomena (Fochtman, 2008). Phenomenology flourished in the first decade of the twentieth century under the influence of the German philosopher Edmund Husserl. Husserl aimed to establish a rigorous and unbiased approach that appears to arrive at an essential understanding of human consciousness and experience (Fochtman, 2008; Lopez & Willis, 2004; Wojnar & Swanson, 2007). Therefore, European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431 phenomenology aims to: (1) gaining a deeper understanding of the meaning of people's everyday experiences (Polit & Beck, 2008; Van Manen, 1990), and (2) directing the understanding of phenomenon which is consciously experienced by people themselves (Polifroni & Welch, 1999). According to Van Manen (1990), phenomenological research does not develop theory; it provides insight into reality and makes us closer to the living world. The phenomenological researcher may ask the following questions: What is this experience like? (Laverty, 2003); what is this or that kind of experience like? (Van Manen, 1990); what is the essence ofthis phenomenon as experienced by these people? (Polit & Beck, 2008); or, what is the meaning of the phenomenon to those who experience it? (Polit & Beck, 2008).

Approaches of phenomenology Phenomenology can be divided into descriptive phenomenology created by Husserl and interpretive- hermeneutic phenomenology created by Heidegger. However, overlapping between both approaches is expected (Fochtman, 2008). The descriptive phenomenology used to reach true meanings through engaging in-depth into reality (Laverty, 2003; Lopez & Willis, 2004). Husserl valued the experience of phenomenon as perceived by human consciousness which should be an object of scientific study (Lopez & Willis, 2004).

One of the important assumptions of Husserlian phenomenology is bracketing in which the researcher should declare personal biases, assumptions, and presuppositions and put them aside (Gearing, 2004). The aim of this is to keep what is already known about the description of the phenomenon separately from participants' description. The researchers should avoid any imposing of their assumptions on the data collection process or the structure of the data (Ahern, 1999; Gearing, 2004; Speziale & Carpenter, 2007). Therefore, bracketing is a way to ensure validity of data collection and analysis and to maintain the objectivity of the phenomenon (Ahern, 1999; Speziale & Carpenter, 2007). Husserl believed that bracketing helps to gain insight into the common features of any lived experience. He referred to these features as universal essences and considered them to represent the true nature of the phenomenon under investigation (Lopez & Willis, 2004; Wojnar & Swanson, 2007).

Later, Heidegger (a student of Husserl) modified the work of Husserl and introduced some assumptions that may yield meaningful inquiry. Heidegger’s ideas include the interpretive or hermeneutic research tradition. To study human experience, hermeneutics comprises not only description of the major concepts and essences, but also looking for meanings embedded in common life practices. These meanings are not obscure, so it can be extracted from the narratives generated by people (Lopez & Willis, 2004; Wojnar & European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431 Swanson, 2007). Heidegger believed that the relationship between an individual and his or her world should be the focus of phenomenological inquiry.

Phenomenological data analysis using Colaizzi’s (1978) strategy Prior to describe the analytical procedure of dataset, a brief description of data collection

and transcripts formation are summarized as follow:

Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted using a pre-prepared interview guide. Participants were encouraged to talk freely and to tell stories using their own words. Each interview lasted from 45 minutes to one-hour and all of them were conducted by the main researcher. At the end of each interview, the researcher reminded the participants about her need for a second contact with them via telephone calls to discuss the study findings and to make sure that the study findings reflect their own experiences. The level of data saturation was determined by the main researcher and by another independent researcher in a process carried out in parallel with data collection. Then, saturation was based on consensus between both researchers. Twenty-two participants engaged the study. In eventual, the transcripts were double-checked by the independent researcher who has experience in qualitative research.

The following steps represent Colaizzi process for phenomenological data analysis (cited in Sanders, 2003; Speziale & Carpenter, 2007).

1. Each transcript should be read and re-read in order to obtain a general sense about the whole content.

2. For each transcript, significant statements that pertain to the phenomenon under study should be extracted. These statements must be recorded on a separate sheet noting their pages and lines numbers.

3. Meanings should be formulated from these significant statements.

4. The formulated meanings should be sorted into categories, clusters of themes, and themes.

5. The findings of the study should be integrated into an exhaustive description of the phenomenon under study.

6. The fundamental structure of the phenomenon should be described.

7. Finally, validation of the findings should be sought from the research participants to compare the researcher's descriptive results with their experiences.

European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431 Figure (1) illustrates the process of descriptive phenomenological data analysis created by Colaizzi (1978).

Figure 1. A summary of Colaizzi's strategy for phenomenological data analysis.

(developed by the author in 1/9/2010).

The previous steps were employed and confirmed by two researchers as follow:

Step one Each transcript was read several times to gain a sense of the whole content. During this stage, any thoughts, feelings, and ideas that arose by the researcher due to her previous work with cancer patients were added to the bracketing diary. This helped to explore the phenomenon as experienced by participants themselves.

European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431 Step two In this stage of analysis, significant statements and phrases pertaining to body image changes and coping strategies were extracted from each transcript. These statements were written in separate sheets and coded based on their "transcript, page, and line numbers".

After extracting the significant statements form transcripts, the two researchers compared their work and reached consensus. Four hundred and ten significant statements were extracted from the twenty-two transcripts. Table (1) provides examples from the significant statements which were identified and extracted from patients' data.

Step three Meanings were formulated from the significant statements. Each underlying meaning was coded in one category as they reflect an exhaustive description. Similarly, both researchers compared the formulated meanings with the original meanings maintaining the consistency of descriptions. However, minimal differences were found between the two researchers. Four hundred and ten formulated meanings were derived from the 410 significant statements. Thereafter, the whole statements and their meanings were checked by an expert researcher who found the process is correct and the meanings are consistent. Table (2) provides examples of how significant statements were converted into formulated meanings.

Step four After having an agreement toward all formulated meanings, the process of grouping all these formulated meanings into categories that reflect a unique structure of clusters of themes was initiated. Each cluster of theme was coded to include all formulated meanings related to that group of meanings. After that, groups of clusters of themes that reflect a particular vision issue were incorporated together to form a distinctive construct of theme. Indeed, all these themes are internally convergent and externally divergent; meaning that each "formulated meaning" falls only in one theme cluster that is distinguished in meaning from other structures (Mason, 2002).

Later, both researchers compared their clusters of themes and checked the accuracy of the overall thematic map along with having assistance from the expert researcher in qualitative research.

Fourteen theme clusters emerged which were grouped later into four emergent themes.

Table (3) shows the process of constructing the first theme "Awareness of deteriorating physical changes" through integrating various clusters of themes.

The final thematic map developed for this study is illustrated in Table (4).

European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431

–  –  –

"I am very annoyed to see myself like this, and many times I cry because of that…my appearance has changed… sometimes I feel 2 4 154-157 that people are disgusted because of my appearance, and sometimes they feel sorry for me because of my condition, this causes me to feel depressed"

–  –  –

"Yes, surely, my family members tell me about these changes that 4 8 353-355 they are acceptable, they try to make me feel normal…my father tells me that these changes are normal; they are from God, he usually supports me"

–  –  –

European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431 Table 2: Examples of the Process of Creating Formulated Meanings from Significant Statements.

–  –  –

"I do not like to see people because all of them are curious to People are curious to look at the look at something strange, and I always hear from most of the patient, considering different people that my hair will not grow again because of appearance than normal.

chemotherapy, they only want to look at me" (Transcript 2, page 2, lines 83-85).

–  –  –

"Nurses are always kidding with me, and when I buy new Nurses kindly regard patient's clothes they say to me they are very beautiful" (Transcript 6, appearance and dress.

page 4, lines 146-147).

–  –  –

"It is clear that I am a cancer patient. Actually, there is no Patient indicates that any person can one who did not hear about the effect of chemotherapy like recognize cancer through its signs hair loss, vomiting, and others" (Participant 22, page 2, lines such as hair loss and vomiting.


European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431 Table 3: Example of How the First Theme "Awareness of Deteriorating Physical Changes" Was Constructed From Different Clusters of Themes and Formulated Meanings.

Examples of Formulated Meanings Theme Clusters Emergent Theme

–  –  –

European Scientific Journal November edition vol. 8, No.27 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431 Step five At this stage of analysis, all emergent themes were defined into an exhaustive description. After merging all study themes, the whole structure of the phenomenon "perceptions of body image changes associated with chemotherapy and coping strategies" has been extracted. Thereafter, the researcher sought an expert researcher who reviewed the findings in terms of richness and completeness to provide sufficient description and to confirm that the exhaustive description reflects the perceptions of Jordanian adolescents of their body image changes and the coping strategies. Finally, a validation to this exhaustive description was confirmed with the research supervisors.

Step six This step is a bit similar to the previous step, but no exhaustive meanings were sought. In this step a reduction of findings was done in which redundant, misused or overestimated descriptions were eradicated from the overall structure. It seems that such attempt was made to emphasize on the fundamental structure. Some amendments were applied to generate clear relationships between clusters of theme and their extracted themes, which included also eliminating some ambiguous structures that weaken the whole description.

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