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In the last Research Made Simple Series article, we briefly outlined the main phenomenological research approaches in relation to investigating healthcare phenomena including Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). IPA was originally developed as a method to undertake experiential research in psychology1 and has gained prominence across health and social sciences as a way to understand and interpret topics which are complex and emotionally laden, such as illness experiences.2 In this article, we detail in more depth, the philosophical and methodological nuances of IPA.
Overview of IPA
The aim of IPA is to uncover what a lived experience means to the individual through a process of in depth reflective inquiry.3 IPA draws on phenomenological thinking, with the purpose to return ‘to the things themselves’ (p 168).4 However, IPA also acknowledges that we are each influenced by the worlds in which we live in and the experiences we encounter. Therefore, IPA is an interpretative process between the researcher and researched, influenced predominantly by Heidegger’s interpretive phenomenology, hermeneutics and idiography,2 3 summarised in table 1.
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