Toolkit or Toolbox: Grounded theory and methodological flexibility

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


The development of grounded theory has always contained tensions between positions of purism and adaptation, and grounded theory developments have been characterised as being along various generations (Morse et al. 2009) or varieties (Bryant 2019). The pragmatics of applied research though have led to both the borrowing of specific techniques from grounded theory and the blending of grounded theory with other research approaches. This is presented as the grounded theory ‘toolkit’, which exists alongside the more traditional ‘toolbox’ that represents. This paper will explore how grounded theory has been applied in health contexts, and will particularly emphasise an ongoing project in which grounded theory is being blended with participatory action research in supporting the process of goal-setting by transdisciplinary teams of healthcare providers and educators in a school for children with motor disorders. It will be shown how salient features of grounded theory and participatory action research work to provide the benefits of both approaches. This new ‘toolkit/toolbox’ model provides definitional clarity in understanding how grounded theory methodology both stands on its own as a self-contained methodological approach and yet still makes its strengths available for adoption by researchers working with other methodologies. Through the use of specific examples we hope to provide inspiration for such borrowings for current nurse researchers.
Period8 Sep 2021
Event titleRCN International Nursing Research Conference 2021
Event typeConference
LocationUnited KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Grounded theory
  • Research methods