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Phenomenology as a political position within maternity care.

Thomson, Gill; Crowther, Susan


Gill Thomson

Susan Crowther


In this article, the authors use the context of childbirth to consider the power that is endemic in certain forms of evidence within maternity care research. First, there is consideration of how the current evidence hierarchy and experimental-based studies are the gold standard to determine and direct women's maternity experiences, although this can be at the detriment of care and irrespective of women's needs. This is followed by a critique of how the predominant means to assess women's experiences via satisfaction surveys is of limited utility, offering impartial and restricted insights to assess the quality of care provision. A counter position of hermeneutic phenomenology as research method is then described. This approach offers an alternative perspective by penetrating the taken-for-granted ordinariness of an event (such as childbirth) to elicit rich emic meanings. Whilst all approaches to understanding maternity care have a place, depending on the question(s) being asked, the contribution of phenomenology is how it can uncover a depth of contextual understanding into what matters to women and to inform and transform care delivery.


THOMSON, G. and CROWTHER, S. 2019. Phenomenology as a political position within maternity care. Nursing philosophy [online], 20(4), article ID e12275. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 24, 2019
Online Publication Date Aug 22, 2019
Publication Date Oct 31, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 3, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 23, 2020
Journal Nursing Philosophy
Print ISSN 1466-7681
Electronic ISSN 1466-769X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 4
Article Number e12275
Keywords Evidence-based medicine; Hermeneutic phenomenology; Maternity care; Satisfaction surveys
Public URL


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