Grounded Theory and Phenomenological Approach Methodologies

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 7
Words: 1949
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: College


Creswell (1998) defines qualitative research as an inquiry process involving various methods which assist in understanding social as well as human problems. The process is very crucial when it comes to cases when insightful understanding on the various interactions between man and its environment is required. Interactive relationships existing within social set-up guarantees some meaning to the environmental experiences in question (Black, 1994).

Analysis of the detailed research normally seeks to establish understanding existing between stated research objectives, data and the findings from the various experiences. Data collection, interpretation and analysis is done based on either grounded theory or Phenomenological approach depending on the nature of relevance required during the whole study process (Strauss and Corbin, 1990).

Comparative Analysis

Phenomenological approach analyzes the different reactions involved when loss and grief occurs amongst incarcerated women. According to Browne et al 1999, Incarcerated women encompass majorly the disadvantaged within the society. They can be disadvantaged either physically, materially or emotionally. The same view is shared by Greenfield and Snell 1999, who argues that most of these women lack enough vocational training or rather work experience which leads to their poor mental development as well as health issues. Most of these problems can be traced from substance abuse as well as dependence which ultimately contribute to the whole experience of grief and loss (James and Glaze, 2006).

Phenomenological approach views the whole issue on uncomplicated grief in various stages allowing specific phenomenon trying to establish in-depth experience involved when one tries accommodating loss. Grief is described to transition from one stage to another till it reaches the stage where it can be defined and accommodated within the confines of the real world situation. Phenomenological perspective explains human behaviour from relationship context, whereby the perspective relates every aspect of human behaviour to the surrounding environment (Boyd, 1993). While on the other hand grounded theory majorly depends on themes and categories to draw data in explaining given experience, hence making the method capable of accommodating wide application.

Phenomenological perspective focuses so much on the perceptions of the mind and the body, where the analysis pays attention to the connection between the soul and the real world. Incarcerated women’s lifestyles in this case considered spatial, corporeal, temporal as well as relational needs used as major themes. The spatial aspect requires the inclusion of environment and the manner in which it affects day to day lives. Corporeal involves much of body’s experiences while temporal focus on events and their timing and finally the relational aspect which involves much of interactions amongst and between individuals (van Manen, 1990).

The process of data collection involves an author endowed with the responsibility of identifying interested participants through informed consent. Both the literate and illiterate are well accommodated within the study. This is contrary to grounded theory which uses only the literate during data collection. The illiterate are required to use distinctive marks on the consent form for identification purposes (Food and Drug Administration, 2001).

Good rapport is created between the nurse and the participants to eliminate the phobia on power differential. Participants are identified as unanimous by the first author, and at the same time free interaction was allowed including asking of questions. The process has no interference with participant’s level of literacy as well as medical access. The interview process takes place on a free environment granting the participants enough freedom of choice, either to continue or discontinue the interview depending on how they felt. The author directly reports to the health professional (van Manen, 1990).

The process involves transcribed interview on those considered greatly traumatized. The participants are allowed to choose the events in their lives which appears more significant to their emotions. The exercise is done irrespective of time differentials amongst the participants. Most of the process followed is qualitative demanding more of dialogue. The data is used to differentiate standards and nature of trauma amongst incarcerated women hence identifying the commonality involved. The meaning sought in this particular investigation is the level of emotional torture incarcerated women undergo depending on their status (van Manen, 1990).

However, the extent of the effect is described by the use of the word “Loss” making the phenomenon easily understood by the participants. According to the given case the use of the word enabled detailed description of the incidences in layman’s language. There was also the use of probing questions in case detailed clarification was required. The interview process involves three authors each performing different roles with the third author taking note of every detail of the participant including body language (Munhall, 2007). The second author is normally an expert in phenomenology data analysis. In grounded theory the analysis process which included coding is done by two individuals.

According to van Manen 1990, phenomenology focuses majorly on the detailed meaning of our daily interactions with the environment. Thus the statement “Meaning is found in the transaction between the individual and a situation” (Munhall, 2007). The whole study process applies the deeper understanding of the experiences involved. The process is done in steps detailing every stage and nature of experiences involved.

The first process involved sampling of the target population where fifteen incarcerated women were interviewed. The focus was to have full firsthand information on the nature of the experiences. The second process involved establishing facts about the identified experience with focus on the described existential life worlds i.e. spatiality, corporeality, temporality as well as relationallity. The process is at the same time used to identify and establish individual themes based on research done by Hentz 2002.

Then the third process identified as phenomenological reflection assists in establishing the true life experiences of participants. This helps in establishing common themes across the experiences. Then the fourth and the last process involve phenomenological writing, where descriptions of the whole data are done giving the reality behind the experiences described, this assisted in extracting the themes (Munhall, 2007). Data analysis process involves various groupings which enables easy understanding of the phenomenon by establishing the meaning of each experience undergone by the sampled group.

Grounded theory is used in the research for the purposes of providing the required empirical knowledge concerning various experiences without drawing any conclusion before results are established (Strauss and Corbin, 1990). In this case the researcher uses an inductive method where preconceived views and ideas are considered irrelevant. All the results found are generated from the data collected. Just in the same manner as Phenomenological approach, grounded theory aims at describing as well as explaining the phenomenon under study establishing deeper understanding of the various experiences (Strauss and Corbin, 1998).

In this case the central theme from the experiences is derived from data collection and analysis which occurs concurrently. In this case participants were invited with age limits clearly verified. Illiterate cases were not catered for since all participants were expected to know how to read, write and speak fluently. Data was collected from potential participants both men and women, focusing on their experiences during the final days of their loved ones before death. The nature of the interviews was semi-structured making it easier the process of obtaining valuable information within the target areas (Strauss and Corbin, 1990).

In Grounded theory data analysis is done after the fieldwork leading to generation of complete data. After collection, data is grouped into themes which are utilized in detailed description of the study based on the given social and psychological set-up. The nature of validity of grounded theory research majorly focuses on transparency and viability of the questions and responses (Rubin and Rubin, 1995). Individual narrative interviews are also utilized in this case, and this is done concurrently with the process of transcription and data coding which assist in categorizing data for analysis.

In grounded theory data generation process is revealed through transparency enabling thorough assessment on the positive consequences of the study research on various emotional experiences. Transcribed notes during the interview provides some level of enhancement to the whole process, and at the same time the process themes that emerging during the interview provides vital information used as part of theoretical sampling (Kirby and McKenna, 1989).

At the same time the process is drawn from the detailed literature review examining previous research done in the same field which provides some valuable linkage to various findings within the phenomenon under investigation. According to Crotty 1998, the analysis of the non-verbal communication during the interview process provides some valuable information concerning the research study. The interpretation recorded in form of content memo ensures that all required information is retained. The use of inductive coding assisted in showing research consistency based on the given information.

The coding made it easier in analyzing the similarities and differences existing in the data having the same code. Axial coding was used to add depth and structure to each category of experience; selective coding was ultimately used to finalyze and refines the various categories of experiences. All categories were identified to have influence on each other, for example the core category on maintaining presence for the benefit of both couples proved the nature of bond within a relationship irrespective of status or the environment (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). Coding was done after thorough scrutiny of the general interview scripts

Required consistency is achieved through the use of peer debriefing. In grounded theory, unlike in Phenomenological approach, two evaluators are used with different coding frame used in sampling the sub-transcripts. Accuracy is then ensured through comparison as revealed in the discussions before, out of which the final coding frame used for the entire data is produced (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). In both cases the methodology applied in generation of data involved lots of flexibility and at the same time proved relevant to the target population where data was generated. In both cases in-depth interviews was applicable where more information concerning the experiences under investigation were recorded (Minichiello et al, 2003).

In-depth interviews used in both cases assisted very much in gaining deep insight concerning participant’s emotional as well as psychological experiences with regard to their environment. Both methodologies are flexible and easy to understand since the main focuses are based on freedom of expression, neutrality with sensitivity to information given priority. This makes the participants feel appreciated hence remain relevant to the topic under investigation. The two methods allowed for open conversations which at some point involved recording, hence enabling collection of detailed information concerning various experiences (Whyte, 1982). The social as well as physical environmental set-up is appreciated through involvement of In-depth interviewing processes.

Limitations involved

Grounded theory entails some level of limitations which include such items as too much time required including lots of resources. This makes it difficult covering large sample from the intended population (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). Much time is spent on the interviews following the explanations that have to be done for the respondents to accept and confirm participation. In both cases the use of body language observations, interviews and the approach given in data analysis provided up-dated qualitative data (Emden and Sandelwoski, 1999).


The methodologies led to the desired results on the intended reactions to the experiences based on social as well as psychological behaviour of the participants. Information given in both cases provided enough data on the analysis of the situations and at the same time enabling easy interpretation of the given results (Ritchie, 2003). The results obtained through grounded theory could best be useful to healthcare professional within the specified area of study. However, phenomenological approach and grounded theory are both preferred for analyzing situations within the medical field. Both analyses have pros and cons which make the processes involved differ in context as well as ultimate findings.


Black, N. (1994). Why we need qualitative research. Journal of Epidemiol Community Health, (48), 425-426.

Boyd, C., O. (1993). Phenomenology: The method. In P. L. Munhall & C. O. Boyd (Eds.), Nursing research: A qualitative perspective (2nd ed., pp. 99-132). New York: National League of Nursing.

Browne, A., Miller, B., & Maguin, E. (1999). Prevalence and severity of lifetime Physical and sexual victimization among incarcerated women. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 22(3-4), 301-322.

Creswell, W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among Five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Crotty, M. (1998). The foundations of social research: Meaning and perspective in The research process. Sydney.

Emden, C. & Sandelwoski, M. (1999). The good, the bad and the relative, part two: Goodness and the criterion problem in qualitative research. International Journal of Nursing Practice, (5), 2-7.

Food and Drug Administration. (2001). Guidance for institutional review boards and Clinical investigators—1998 update: A guide to informed consent. Web.

Greenfeld, L., & Snell, T. (1999). Women offenders. Web.

Hentz, P. (2002). The body remembers: Grieving and a circle of time. Qualitative Health Research, (12), 161-172.

James, D. & Glaze, L. (2006). Mental Health Problems of Prisons and jail inmates. Web.

Kirby, S. & McKenna, K. (1989). Experience, research, and social change: Methods From the margins. Toronto: Garamond Press.

Mays, N. & Pope, C. (2000). Qualitative research in health care: assessing quality in Qualitative research. BMJ (320), 50-52.

Minichiello, V., Sullivan, G., Greenwood, K. & Axford, R. (2003). Research Methods for nursing and health sciences (2 nd Ed.). Sydney.

Munhall, P. L. (2007). A phenomenological method. In P. L. Munhall (Ed.), Nursing Research: A qualitative perspective. Boston: Jones & Bartlett.

Ritchie, J. & Lewis, J. (2003). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social Science students and researchers. Sage, London.

Rubin, H., & Rubin, I. (1995). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data. Sage, London.

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory Procedures and techniques. London.

Strauss, A., Corbin, J., 1998. Basics of Qualitative Research. Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. (2nd Ed). SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi.

Whyte, W. F. (1982). Interviewing in field research. In: R. G. Burgess (Ed.), Field Research: A sourcebook and field manual. London.

van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action Sensitive pedagogy. New York: State University of New York Press.