Phenomenography: A useful methodology for midwifery research

Kirstie Jayne Balding, Sadie Geraghty, Amanda Timler, Sally Pezaro, Sheena McChlery

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Aims: To outline the theoretical, philosophical, and major assumptions associated with phenomenography and then address the application of a phenomenographical approach within the context of midwifery research. Background: Phenemonography is a little-known qualitative research approach amongst the main design traditions of phenomenology, grounded theory, case study, and ethnography more typically used within midwifery research. Phenomenography aims to describe the qualitatively different ways that people perceive, conceptualize, or experience a phenomenon. Phenemonography has a distinctly different approach from other qualitative methods as it places emphasis on the ‘collective’ meaning over individual experience. Methodology: Phenomenography, as an approach, rests within the interpretivist paradigm recognizing that there are multiple interpretations of reality. Phenomenography emphasizes the various ways that people experience the same phenomenon, including both the similarities and differences. The second-order perspective embraced by phenomenography suggests that the researcher directs themselves towards people's understanding of the world; essentially the world is described as it is understood rather than as it is. It is the reporting about how these different realities appear at a collective level that is the output of phenomenographic research. Findings: A framework for conducting phenomenographic research is illustrated by outlining the steps within the methodological approach required to undertake a research study using phenemonography. Conclusion: Phenomenography is a qualitative research approach that can usefully be applied in many midwifery contexts where a collective understanding of a phenomena is required. Using a phenomenographic approach can provide the midwifery profession with knowledge about variations in how women and midwives think, and how aspects of different phenomena are experienced in within a midwifery setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Early online date22 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Advanced Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • qualitative approaches
  • research methods
  • phenemonography
  • midwifery


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