Embracing the Creative: The Role of Photo Novella in Qualitative Nursing Research

  • Dawn Burke Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick
  • Joan Evans Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University


Photo novella is presented as an effective and creative data collection method that has the ability to engage participants in the process of critical thinking and reflection. This reflective practice provides rich insight that can be of great benefit when exploring complex and multifaceted health issues. In this study, oncology and palliative care nurses were asked to think about what spirituality meant to them and then take photographs that represented these concepts. Once developed, the nurses were asked to select 4-6 photographs that were most meaningful and the most representative of what spirituality meant to them. These photographs then guided the semi-structured interview. The photographs provided great insight into the nurses’ perceptions and meanings associated with spirituality and highlight the benefits of utilizing photographs within qualitative nursing research.

Author Biographies

Dawn Burke, Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick
Dawn Burke, MN, RN graduated in 2006 from Dalhousie University with her Master of Nursing. She currently works as a Senior Teaching Associate.
Joan Evans, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University
Associate Professor and Director of the Communication Skills Program, Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University; she also has a cross-appointment with the School of Nursing Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University.