Memory in narratives and stories: implications for nursing research

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nurse researcher, 2019, 27 (3), pp. 27 - 32
Issue Date:
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©2019 RCN Publishing Company Ltd. All rights reserved. Not to be copied, transmitted or recorded in any way, in whole or part, without prior permission of the publishers. BACKGROUND: Memory, as a concept, is rarely discussed or described in qualitative research. However, memories are central to the stories people tell about their experiences of health and illness, which are often the focus of nursing enquiry. Memories also have the potential to be sensitive or traumatic. AIM: To consider the implications of memory for qualitative research by exploring the following issues: What is memory? What are the implications for using it in research? How can research participants and researchers best be supported in qualitative research when sensitive or traumatic memories are involved? DISCUSSION: Memory is imperfect, complex and dependent on context. Memories are connected to meaning and are central to identity. Qualitative research should appreciate the complexities of memory. Nurses undertaking qualitative research should be mindful of the potentially sensitive or traumatic nature of memories. Both participants and researchers can be affected and care should be taken during the research. CONCLUSION: Memory should not be taken for granted. The meanings underpinning memories are central to qualitative enquiry and are to be valued. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The strategies described in this paper can support researchers and participants when dealing with traumatic or sensitive memories.
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