The inter-connectivity of tools for analysis: combining textual and visual data to construct a substantive theory of professional identity of adult nursing

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Background: Research around the problematic nature of professional socialisation is well documented in nursing literature; what appears to be less well understood is the development of professional identity from the insider perspective (Traynor and Buus, 2016). A constructivist grounded theory approach investigating identity formation has combined textual and visual data to capture this narrative for those aspiring to be an adult nurse. Aim: To share insights of the construction and sustainability of professional identity of adult nursing. Methods: A constructivist grounded theory approach was used to collect data with 10 female pre-registration education undergraduate students in the field of adult nursing. They were recruited using convenience sampling following ethics approval from the University of Northampton. Data was collected (May 2012 to December 2013), using semi structured interviews and photo elicitation on three occasions with each participant. Analysis of both transcribed and visual data used a constant comparative approach, with concurrent memo writing, thematic sensitivity and researcher reflexivity (Charmaz 2014). Findings: Collecting visual and textual data through an ‘interview with images’ format was the process initially proposed to elicit participant response (Pink, 2007 pg. 82). It was soon recognised that combining imagery and text created an intimate familiarity redressing power dynamics. The sharing of imagery reinforced collaboration between participant and researcher, with often unusual and unexpected reflections being disclosed. Discussion: Using photo elicitation within the interview format was purposeful decision, enriching co-collaboration through participant selection of imagery, making meaningful discussion informing the subjective reality of the construction of self as adult nurse. This combination opened up discussion between participant and researcher via narrative the imagery provoked, whilst being mindful of the gaze employed (Pink 2007). Conclusions: Combining these tools for data collection and subsequent analysis enhances the inter-connectivity of language, ideals, attitudes, values and behaviour expressed, and in doing so strengthens the trustworthiness of data collected.


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