Journal of Professional Nursing

Meeting the Challenges Of Critical Case Study In Nursing Research: An Interview With Alison Dixon  

Pamela J. Wood, RGON, PhD, Associate Professor Graduate School of Nursing and Midwifery Victoria University of Wellington
Lynne S. Giddings, RGON, RM, PhD, Associate Professor School of Nursing and Midwifery, Auckland University of Technology

Reference:  Wood, P. J., & Giddings, L. S. (2002). Meeting the challenges of critical case study in nursing research: An interview with Alison Dixon. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 18(3), 5-17.


Critical case study is a methodology seldom used in nursing or midwifery research, yet it offers a process for revealing and acting on power relations in the practice worlds of nurses and midwives. This is the eighth article in a series based on interviews with nursing and midwifery researchers, designed to provide the beginning researcher with a first-hand account of the experience of using particular methodologies. This article focuses on critical case study as experienced by Alison Dixon (RGON, BA, Dip Soc Sci (Nursing), PhD) who used this methodology to explore the difference in practice between enrolled and registered nurse practice.  

Research, methodologies, critical case study, consciousness-raising, hegemony, power, participant voice

Critical case study
Most nurses and midwives are familiar with case study as a research design. Fewer are familiar with critical case study. This article, the eighth in a series based on interviews with nursing and midwifery researchers, offers the beginning researcher an introduction to critical case study by focusing on one particular project (refer to Giddings & Wood (2000) for background information on the series). An interview with Dr Alison Dixon (RGON, BA, Dip Soc Sci (Nursing), PhD), Head of the School of Nursing at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, reveals how one nurse researcher rose to the challenges created by this methodology. The research undertaken by Alison for her PhD, completed in 1996, had a twofold purpose. Firstly, it asked five registered nurses, who had been enrolled nurses, to consider what was different about their practice now, compared with their enrolled nurse experience. Secondly, key nursing stakeholders were interviewed to gather their views of a proposed legislative change which would lead, in effect, to the demise of enrolled nurses.  Continued

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