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Chapter 5

Nurses' Use of Qualitative Research Approaches to Investigate Tobacco Use and Control


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Qualitative research methods are increasingly used by nurse scientists to explore a wide variety of topics relevant to practice and/or health policy issues. The purpose of this chapter is to review the contributions of nurse scientists to the field of tobacco control through the use of qualitative research methods. A systematic literature search strategy was used to identify 51 articles published between 1980 and 2008. The majority (84%) of reviewed articles were authored by North American nurse scientists. Cessation was the most commonly (85%) studied aspect of tobacco control. Six qualitative research approaches were used: qualitative descriptive (55%), narrative analysis (8%), phenomenology (6%), grounded theory (14%), ethnography (12%), and case study (6%). Qualitative descriptive methods were primarily one-off studies to address practical problems or issues encountered in practice, and often validated current understandings related to tobacco. Researchers who used other types of qualitative methods and who conducted qualitative studies as part of programs of research were more likely to make more substantive contributions to the evolving field of tobacco control. These contributions related to how smoking intertwines with personal and social identities, the influence of social context on tobacco use, and nurses' involvement in tobacco control (both of their own tobacco use and in assisting others). Nurse scientists interested in exploring tobacco-related issues are encouraged to consider the full range of qualitative research approaches. Qualitative research methods contribute to our understanding of tobacco use arising from nursing practice, health care and policy, along with the field of tobacco control in general.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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