Journal of Professional Nursing

Revealing Storied Lives - Life Story Narrative Inquiry In Nursing And Midwifery: An Interview With Rose Mceldowney   

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, Auckland University of Technology 

Reference:  Wood, P. J., & Giddings, L. S. (2003). Revealing storied lives - life story narrative inquiry in nursing and midwifery: An interview with Rose McEldowney. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 19(2), 4-18. 


Narrative inquiry is a methodology encompassing a range of research approaches such as autobiography, biography, life history, oral history and life story. As nurses and midwives engage significantly with people through stories, it is not surprising that narrative inquiry has found a place in the repertoire of nursing and midwifery research methodologies. This article is the tenth in a series based on interviews with nursing and midwifery researchers, designed to offer the beginning researcher a first-hand account of the experience of using particular methodologies. It focuses on life story narrative inquiry as the methodology used by Rose McEldowney (RCpN, BA, MEd, ADN) in her PhD research about the experiences of nurse educators teaching for social change in nursing programmes in New Zealand.   

Research methodologies, narrative inquiry, life story

Life story narrative inquiry
Nurses and midwives in their everyday working lives engage significantly with people through stories. An understanding of a person’s health needs, for example, is often gained through the stories they tell. Telling stories is also part of practice. We pass on stories in the oral handover between shifts and our written exemplars of practice often take story form. Through these ‘narratives of experience’ meaning is created as stories are interpreted and reconstructed.  It is therefore not surprising that storytelling and narrative have found their niche in the research methodologies used by nurses and midwives. A range of methodologies fall within the general group called narrative inquiry.  Autobiography, biography, life history, oral history and life story, for example, all work with stories of significant experience. These stories, often generated through conversations conducted by the researcher with participants, form the narrative texts that the researcher interprets.  Narrative inquiry is an emerging methodology in nursing and midwifery research. Depending on the research interests and theoretical positioning adopted by the researcher, 

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