Humanitarian nursing with Médecins Sans Frontières: Foregrounding the listening guide as a method for analysing oral history data

Berenice Golding, Janet Hargreaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To demonstrate how the listening guide contributed to oral history data analysis. To better understand the continuing inclination of nurses to engage in humanitarian work, foregrounding the nurses’ lives. Background: The voice-centred relational method or listening guide is a method of qualitative data analysis used to analyse oral history data. Design: A conventional approach to oral history interviews was adopted; intervention into the “flow” of participants’ narrative was kept to a minimum. A small number of prompts, how they came into nursing, recruitment to, life with and since Médecins Sans Frontières, were used. Methods: Oral history interviews were conducted with seven nurses who had worked for Médecins Sans Frontières. Interviews were digitally recorded. This paper will demonstrate the application of the listening guide to historical data analysis and critique its applicability and value. The listening guide advocates four readings (listenings) of the text. Firstly, locating the plot in the narrative; secondly, actively listening for the use of “I?” (“we”, or “you”), the “self” in context of the story being told and “I poem” development; thirdly, listening for relationships and finally, locating accounts in relation to wider social, political and societal contexts. Results: Analysis revealed: “becoming”, “being” and “leaving” Médecins Sans Frontières as chronological thematic areas. At one extreme creating “I poems” foregrounded individual voices while cross-referencing to contemporaneous records of world events locates this in an International context. Conclusion: It is argued that subjecting historical data to the listening guide can enable legitimate, creative exploration and analysis of data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1984-1992
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number8
Early online date6 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


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