The Significance of Gender in Phenomenological Nursing Research

Bente Martinsen, Pia Dreyer, Anita Haahr, Annelise Norlyk


The aim of this paper is to discuss in the light of phenomenological philosophy, whether it can be argued that men and women have different lifeworlds and how this may legitimize the segregation of men and women in empirical nursing research. We analyzed peer-reviewed papers from 2003-2012 and scrutinized the arguments used for dividing men and women into separate groups in empirical nursing studies based on phenomenology. We identified 24 studies using gender segregation and posed the following questions: 1. What is the investigated phenomenon as explicated by the authors? 2. What arguments do the authors use when dividing participants into gender specific groups? The analysis showed that a variety of phenomena were investigated that were all related to a specific medical condition. None appeared to be gender-specific, though the authors argued for a sole focus on either women or men. The most common argument for segregating men and women were reference to earlier studies. A few studies had references to methodology and/or philosophy as argument for a segregation of men and women. Arguments for gender segregation in empirical nursing studies based on a phenomenological approach tend to build on the conviction that experiences of health related phenomena are gendered. However, it seems to be difficult to identify conclusive arguments for this division within phenomenological philosophy. Therefore we recommend that segregation should be used with caution. Otherwise other research approaches may be more suitable.

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ISSN: 1913-4711