Hermeneutic phenomenological analysis: the ‘possibility’ beyond ‘actuality’ in thematic analysis

Ken H.M. Ho, Chung Lim Vico Chiang, Doris Y Leung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Martin Heidegger's thinking about historical contexts of understandings and the notions of ‘alētheia’ and ‘techne’ disclose what he called meaning of lived experience, as the ‘unchanging Being of changing beings’. While these notions remain central to hermeneutic phenomenological research, novice phenomenologists usually face the problem of how to incorporate these philosophical tenets into thematic analysis. Design: Discussion paper. Data sources: This discussion paper is based on our experiences of hermeneutic analysis supported by the writings of Heidegger. Literature reviewed for this paper ranges from 1927 – 2014. We draw on data from a study of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong to demonstrate how ‘dwelling’ in the language of participants’ ‘ek-sistence’ supported us in a process of thematic analysis. Data were collected from December 2013 – February 2016. Implications for Nursing: Nurses doing hermeneutic phenomenology have to develop self-awareness of one's own ‘taken-for-granted’ thinking to disclose the unspoken meanings hidden in the language of participants. Understanding the philosophical tenets of hermeneutic phenomenology allows nurses to preserve possibilities of interpretations in thinking. In so doing, methods of thematic analysis can uncover and present the structure of the meaning of lived experience. Conclusion: We provide our readers with vicarious experience of how to begin cultivating thinking that is aligned with hermeneutic phenomenological philosophical tenets to conduct thematic analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1757-1766
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • heidegger
  • hermeneutic
  • language
  • nursing
  • ontology
  • phenomenology
  • qualitative analysis
  • qualitative research
  • techne
  • thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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