The use of Husserl's phenomenology in nursing research: A discussion paper




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Peer reviewed



Aims To discuss how Husserl's descriptive phenomenology, as a philosophy and approach, has been used and reported in researching the experiences of others, using the topic of foreign-trained nurses.

Design Discussion paper.

Data sources A systematic search of MEDLINE (PubMed), CINAHL, SCOPUS, British Nursing Database and PsycInfo was carried out in December 2021. The inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed phenomenological research articles, grounded by Husserl's philosophy, conducted among foreign-trained nurses and published in English from 2000 to 2021.

Findings Two main themes were the outcome of critically reviewing relevant selected literature, ‘referring to the original philosophy is not enough’ and ‘phenomenological findings need to be phenomenological’. These findings confirm some arguments about nurse researchers' discrepant use of phenomenology in their studies, including the proper application of phenomenological notions on the ground.

Implication for Nursing Nurse researchers need to clearly distinguish between phenomenology and other qualitative research approaches and consider the uniqueness of philosophical underpinnings that are essential in Husserl's phenomenology, which also need to be clearly applied and reflected in their studies.

Conclusion There are continually existing discrepancies and variations in using phenomenology by nurse researchers. These variations were uniquely evident when nurse researchers could not provide enough philosophical grounds and assumptions to their studies and underestimated the need to keep up with the various applications of Husserl's phenomenological notions, including the proper practice of phenomenological attitude. Therefore, it is recommended that nurse researchers should opt for different, less complex qualitative approaches if they do not adequately prepare and understand what constitutes phenomenology and the particulars of Husserl's philosophy.


open access article


husserl, phenomenology, philosophy, qualitative approaches, research methods


Al-Sheikh Hassan, M. (2023) The use of Husserl's phenomenology in nursing research: A discussion paper. Journal of Advanced Nursing,


Research Institute

Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care