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June 2022

Using Spradley: An ethnosemantic approach to research

Journal/Book: J Adv Nurs. 1996; 24: Osney Mead, Oxford, Oxon, England OX2 0EL. Blackwell Science Ltd. 341-349.

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the use of Spradley's (1979) Developmental Research Sequence (DRS) as a research method, In a recent study which I have carried out exploring the practice of expatriate nurses, I chose to use this method for data collection and analysis. One major reason for the choice was that as a method within the qualitative paradigm it offered an explicit, systematic and rigorous approach to the collection and collation of the research data. The aim of my study was to explore the common experience of expatriate nurses working in developing countries in primary health care and to identify the common values that influenced their practice, DRS utilizes an ethnoscientific approach which incorporates a systematic study of the way of life of an individual or a community or group of people, understood through the process of ethnosemantic analysis or the study of the meaning within language. Or more simply, it offers a way of understanding something of the reality of another person's experience from the way that he or she talks about it. A major assumption of the method is that cultural groups or individuals organize their knowledge and subsequent rules for behaviour on the basis of culturally designated similarities and differences. The paper sets out the DRS method using examples from my study. It provides an opportunity to share my experience of using this method with others.

Note: Article BA Parfitt, Glasgow Caledonian Univ, Dept Nursing & Community Hlth, City Campus, Cowcaddens Rd, Glasgow G4 0BA, Lanark, Scotland

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