DQ: The three types of qualitative research are phenomenological, grounded theory, and ethnographic research

DQ The three types of qualitative research are phenomenological, grounded theory, and ethnographic research

NRS 433 Topic 2 DQ 2


Green and Johnson explain that phenomenological research involves what individuals have experienced throughout their lives. It involves an approach of in depth interviews and conversations with a subject, trying to understand a phenomena that has happened in their life (Green & Johnson, 2018). An example of a phenomenological research is found in a study by Eroğlu & Şenol. Teachers that taught remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic were interviewed and data was collected about student participation, motivation, curriculums, and much more. This study involved 12 teachers that got the interview and it was an effective method to gather descriptions and experiences from each teacher (Eroğlu & Şenol, 2021).

Family Health Assessment is crucial in identifying the family’s strength and weakness in terms of access to quality and affordable care. The assessment also provides crucial information to the healthcare practitioners on the threats to achieving comprehensive health and general wellness for the whole population. Furthermore, the family assessment prepares nurses especially the Family Nurse Practitioners with the relevant skills required in the assessment of the family health patterns and be able to offer family-based solutions (Peterson-Burch, 2018). The concept has also proved to be instrumental in advancement of genetic interventions in some of the complex conditions.

Green and Johnson then go on to describe the grounded theory as a collection of information from interviews or from observing, then analyzing this information. It is portrayed as a way to understand actions by people in a phenomena (Green & Johnson, 2018). An example of this is found in an article by Foji et al. describing individuals with neurofibromatosis type 1. The article discusses how they live and experience life, and was conducted over the space of 15 months. Individuals were able to express the hardships they have faced and how their life condition affects relief or happiness (Foji et al., 2022). One of the most beneficial parts of using the Grounded theory is that it can examine something uncommon and develop a theory grounded in the data collected (Chun et al., 2019).

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Green & Johnson describe ethnography as trying to understand a person’s cultures through observation. Sometimes this involves a researcher deeply involving themselves in the culture to understand it (Green & Johnson, 2018). An example of an ethnographic research is from a study by Montero-Sieburth about migration populations. The study had cases in the United States, as well as The Netherlands and involved a lot of participation from the researchers while working with vulnerable populations as they gathered qualitative data. She described this study method as a potential for ethical dilemmas because the population is extremely vulnerable, as well as researchers needing to avoid political or cultural practices that might be unethical (Montero-Sieburth, 2020).


Chun Tie, Y., Birks, M., & Francis, K. (2019). Grounded Theory Research: A design framework for novice researchers. SAGE Open Medicine7.

Eroğlu, M., & Şenol, C. (2021). Emergency remote education experiences of teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A phenomenological research. Shanlax International Journal of Education9(3), 161–172.

Foji, S., Mohammadi, E., Sanagoo, A., & Jouybari, L. (2022). How do people with neurofibromatosis type 1 (the forgotten victims) live? A grounded theory study. Health Expectations25(2), 659–666.

Montero-Sieburth, M. (2020). Ethical dilemmas and challenges in Ethnographic Migration Research. Qualitative Research Journal20(3), 281–291.

As nurses, we care for the whole person or patient, which is the concept of phenomenology. In nursing and phenomenology, we want to know the lived experience of the participant or patient. Personally, I feel that gaining a better understanding of patients or participants allows for better data acquisition. As a provider, I like to get to know the patient personally. For instance, I recently was completing a history on a 91-year-old lady who was on no prescription medications and only took a multivitamin. I asked her open questions in an effort for her to clarify how she is 91 years old with no significant medical history and no diagnosis requiring prescription medications. In addition, I asked her about her family history to see how their lived experiences kept them so healthy.  Nonetheless, phenomenology and nursing are similar in their focus on obtaining information to improve healthcare experiences for patients (Zahavi, n.d.).

DQ The three types of qualitative research are phenomenological, grounded theory, and ethnographic research

Can you recount your use of phenomenology in nursing? If you can’t, are you able to think of an opportunity where you can use it in the future?


I have included a video that details phenomenology.


Zahavi, D. (n.d). How can phenomenology help nurses care for their patients?| Aeon Essays. Aeon.

I believe I have used phenomenology in nursing while working in the public health nursing setting. Upon initial visit of maternal child health clients, there are several assessment questions that are phenomenology in nature. For example, the questionnaire asked how they felt or to share their experience upon learning that they were pregnant. If the client was a young teen mother, the questionnaire asked how her parents took the news and what the clients experiences were with the parental support from the time they learned of the pregnancy until the date of the interview. All of these answers were unique as every mother had her own interpretation of her pregnancy experience. Because Public Health Nursing utilized many community resources such as the WIC program and Department of Human Services, referrals depended on how these phenomenology questions were answered. Some clients required mental health referrals, diaper bank referrals, food bank referrals, educational referrals, and other community resources. My point is that phenomenological research in my experience with Public Health nursing provided the client individualized care by referring the mother to programs according to her needs. Phenomenological research “allows researchers to study how experiences, traditions, and culture shape ordinary, everyday practices” (Oerther, 2021). This was the essence of research formulated into public health’s Maternal Child Health question and assessments. Thank you, Jana

DQ The three types of qualitative research are phenomenological, grounded theory, and ethnographic research

Oerther Sarah. (2021). Analysis methods in hermeneutic phenomenological research: interpretive profiles. Frontiers of Nursing7(4), 293–298.


  • Replies to Wanda Felder

Ethnography studies groups of people and culture. When we consider those from non english speaking countries their culture is different. It is true in some cultures that looking at somebody’s face when speaking is disrespectful but in the USA it’s okay and encouraged. Culture differences should be considered when taking care of  patients from different cultures. Communication through verbal and nonverbal methods is determined through ethnographic research.

The culture of the nurses working in the medical unit is different from that of the nurse working in the ICU. Ethnographic research would be helpful in studying the behavior and culture of their unit to understand the pattern and behaviors of staff on those units. Nursing leadership can use grounded leadership research to collect data on safety of the units to prevent falls and infection to create policy to prevent these events. A combination of research techniques can be used together in the nursing profession. Nurses can study to express their experiences in the nursing profession.

Qualitative research at its core, ask open-ended questions whose answers are not easily put into numbers such as ‘how’ and ‘why’. Due to the open-ended nature of the research questions at hand, qualitative research design is often not linear in the same way quantitative design is. One of the strengths of qualitative research is its ability to explain processes and patterns of human behavior that can be difficult to quantify. Phenomena such as experiences, attitudes, and behaviors can be difficult to accurately capture quantitatively, whereas a qualitative approach allows participants themselves to explain how, why, or what they were thinking, feeling, and experiencing at a certain time or during an event of interest. Quantifying qualitative data certainly is possible, but at its core, qualitative data is looking for themes and patterns that can be difficult to quantify and it is important to ensure that the context and narrative of qualitative work are not lost by trying to quantify something that is not meant to be quantified.

However, while qualitative research is sometimes placed in opposition to quantitative research, where they are necessarily opposites and therefore ‘compete’ against each other and the philosophical paradigms associated with each, qualitative and quantitative work are not necessarily opposites nor are they incompatible. While qualitative and quantitative approaches are different, they are not necessarily opposites, and they are certainly not mutually exclusive. For instance, qualitative research can help expand and deepen understanding of data or results obtained from quantitative analysis. For example, say a quantitative analysis has determined that there is a correlation between length of stay and level of patient satisfaction, but why does this correlation exist? This dual-focus scenario shows one way in which qualitative and quantitative research could be integrated together.



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The phenomenological and ethnographic research designs are more different than they are similar. Both designs are used for qualitative research and focus on human experiences, rather than sheer numbers. However, phenomenological focuses on the experiences of the individual whereas ethnographic focuses on the experience of the group (Hasa, 2017).

Phenomenological research describes an individuals experiences regarding a specific situation. Typically, this type of research will involve individuals that have had similar experiences through the use of interviews (Renjith et al., 2021). The phenomenological research design is based on philosophy, psychology, and education and also utilizes observation as a tool (Renjith et al., 2021). Because phenomenological research focuses on the experience of the individual, it also accepts that an individuals reality is determined by their personal experiences (Hasa, 2017). The amount of time this research takes varies depending on the size of the group and how broad the research question is.


Ethnographic research involves the interpretation of behaviors of a “culture sharing group (Renjith et al., 2021).” Renjith et al describe a culture-sharing group as “any group of people who share common meanings, customs, or experiences.” The ethnographic design is based on anthropology and is typically performed through observation and interviews (Renjith et al., 2021). The amount of time this research takes is quite extensive given the prolonged need for observation.





Hasa. (2017, February 17). Difference between ethnography and phenomenology: Definition, features, Focus, data collection. PEDIAA. Retrieved September 5, 2022, from,experiences%20and%20perspectives%20of%20participants.


Renjith, V., Yesodharan, R., Noronha, J. A., Ladd, E., & George, A. (2021). Qualitative methods in health care research. International Journal of Preventative Medicine12(20). Retrieved from


Qualitative research has started gaining momentum within the healthcare profession by focusing on why rather than what of social phenomena. This kind of research study directly encounters people during their daily lives (NIH). Qualitative research looks at actual issues and offers a more in-depth understanding. Researchers use different methodologies to gather the information, such as Grounded Theory and Ethnographic Research.

Ethnographic research takes a cultural approach rooted in social and cultural studies and entails the researcher fully immersing themselves in the participant’s surroundings. While engaging in the participants’ surroundings, the researcher can use different approaches to collect the data needed to understand the social phenomena under study. This type of research is most beneficial when trying to get information that may otherwise be challenging to extract (NIH). One example is if a researcher joins a group of healthcare workers throughout their work day.

Grounded Theory is the experience of observing a study population and creating a comparative analysis of their speech and behavior. This logical theory makes it suitable for studies that seek to understand social interactions or experiences. The main objective of grounded Theory is to explain behavior and how and why something happens or why someone might act a certain way. Through observation, researchers can create a theory to account for the data that may appeal to them as necessary to the study (NIH). One example would be to study why nurses are experiencing stress at work through observation.

Some similarities between the two are they are both qualitative research methods. Both share the exploration of culture. They both rely on participant observations for research. They both aim to seek and comprehend the reasons behind their participants’ real lives.

The difference between the two methodologies is that the Ethnographic researcher gets fully immersed in the study, while the Grounded Theory observes. Ethnography tries to create an inclusive approach, while Grounded Theory identifies developing patterns. Finally, Ethnography uses purpose sampling, and Grounded Theory uses Theoretical sampling.


Al-Busaidi Z. Q. (2008). Qualitative research and its uses in health care. Sultan Qaboos University medical journal8(1), 11–19.

Tenny S, Brannan JM, Brannan GD. Qualitative Study. [Updated 2022 Sep 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-.

In qualitative research, there are different types of research comprising phenomenological, grounded theory and ethnographic research To be precise, phenomenology research examines particular groups using their experiences. Grounded theory research gathers all the data from interviews and observations in a study. Ethnography research examines groups of people and their cultures by observations.

From the description above, ethnography and grounded theory bear differences. According to Green & Johnson (2018), grounded theory research is applied in the categorical discovery of realistic theories for a specific phenomenon. It uses a sequence of organized phases to simplify quantitative data into codes that are arranged into groups of theory and then connect them into a concept that describes the phenomena. For instance, people who were involved in a war that put them in PTSD will be categorized according to psychological and physical features (Renjith et al., 2021).

In contrast, ethnography research conclusively selects participants of a particular research basing on ethnographic features reflecting their cultures and social roles and the rank of particular clusters. It looks into that group’s socio-economic status, literacy, principles and standards. For instance, surveys done on digital platforms on particular phenomena such as COVID or HIV/AIDS, among others (Renjith et al., 2021). Digital platforms provide analytics, which gives researchers useful information that will enable them to track and trace the effectiveness of certain preventive measures. However, grounded theory and ethnographic research have similarities. First, they both use participant observations to gather data. Second, the two assume analytical approaches where researchers are required to explore the real world through interactions with groups, individuals, or phenomena under study.

Q: What is the significance of qualitative methods in healthcare?


Green S. Z. & Johnson J. L. (2018). Nursing Research: Understanding Methods for Best Practice. Grand Canyon University. Retrieved from

Renjith, V., Yesodharan, R., Noronha, J. A., Ladd, E., & George, A. (2021). Qualitative methods in health care research. International journal of preventive medicine12.