Research and nursing are inseparable. Different health issues will arise from time to time leading to confusion among practitioners. Some conditions will only be understood through execution of ample research. Research is mainly carried out when the professionals in a given field are not aware of a given element that arises. Nursing research is usually sensitive, and it requires consideration of unique procedures known as paradigms and methodologies. The paradigms must be defined in line with the cultural safety of the chosen methods. The paradigms address cultural safety in different ways through excellent consideration of philosophical, ethical, and cultural biases available in a given research process.
Paradigms refer to sets of belief and practices, that researchers share as regulations for research in different disciplines. The different paradigms are uniquely defined by characterization in terms of epistemological, ontological, and methodological differences in their bid for conceptualizing, and carrying out research, as well as their contribution towards knowledge creation for a given field such as nursing. However, researchers may ignore the differences among paradigms and combine them, which may not be extremely influential to the field. To achieve the task of developing nursing knowledge for application in practice, there is a requirement for critical and integrated understanding of the paradigms that are extremely fundamental for nursing research (Munhall, 2012).
The first paradigm is the positivist paradigm. The origin of this paradigm is mainly connected to Descartes, with other people claiming that it originated from Galileo. However, both beliefs are as a result of a set of assumptions that resulted to the positivist paradigm. The first assumption is referred to as the realist ontology, which assumes that there are authentic world objects apart from the human knower. This means that there is an objective reality. The second assumption is the representational epistemology, which assumes that people can know this reality and apply symbols for accurate description, and explanation of the objective reality. This element of objective reality provided by the paradigm may be used by researchers to compare and ascertain individual claims on certain issues. In this regard, researchers may use prediction and control techniques, and empirical verification research technique. Prediction and control is a technique that assumes the existence of well defined because and effect patterns that can be used to predict and control natural phenomenon (Weaver & Olson, 2006). The other technique is the empirical verification, which is based on the assumption that researchers can rely on the world for a provision of accurate data.
For accuracy or reliability of the positivist paradigm, methodological paradigm must be followed. This would help in reducing subjective bias, while objectivity will be achieved. The methodology employed in this paradigm dictates use of experimental and manipulative methods. This should be a technique to ensure that good research has been carried out (Wilson & Neville, 2009).The position of the positivist should ensure that the positivist position is based on theoretical belief that can indicate objective reality.
The results of the positivist paradigm are defined on the criteria of validity, reliability, and generalization. Validity defines the ability of the measurement approach to give the correct answer. Reliability provides the ability of the procedure to give the correct answer at any time. Generalization means that technique can be used externally or broadly outside the study context (Wilson & Neville, 2009). For example, if a nursing research was based on the causes of a give disease, there must be clear evidence from the research that the research would assist in dealing with a health problem.
The second paradigm that is mainly used in nursing practices is the interpretive paradigm. This paradigm is mainly based on the assumption of relativist ontology. This is an assumption that reality is constructed subjectively through socially and experimentally developed meanings and understandings. It is also based on the principle of transactional epistemology, which assumes that researchers cannot separate themselves from what they know. The researcher and the element of investigation must be linked in such a way that there is adequate understanding. Following lack of separation between the subject and object in a research, the interpretive paradigm dictates that the values of researchers are inherent in all phases of research (Wilson & Neville, 2009). The truth in research is as a result of dialog. Findings and dialogue claims are developed as investigation proceeds. For example, there are certain diseases that are only identical to a given population and in nursing research such conditions like chronic problems must be evaluated.
This paradigm has major emphasis on pragmatic and moral concerns on evaluation of interpretive science. Existence of a dialogue between researchers and respondents is extremely fundamental. Logically argued dialogue process is the best definition for excellent understanding of the social world.
This paradigm relies on a methodology where the main approach is the interpretive approach. This is a process that ensures that there is excellent dialogue between the subject and object of research. Mainly, qualitative techniques are used in the evaluation. In nursing, this paradigm would be extremely meaningful if this methodology were treated as core. Nursing researchers will always identify the effectiveness of the paradigm on the basis of ethical and substantive validity. Ethical validity defines the significance of the research to the target population and the lessons learnt from the works of the researchers. On the other hand, is the substantive validity, which is the element that evaluates the substance of the interpretive work in research (Weaver & Olson, 2006). For example, some diseases may be only present among members of a given population and the research findings must indicate that the disease is evident only among members of a given community.
The other most useful research paradigm in nursing research is the Critical Realist Paradigm. This paradigm is one of the most recent research paradigms and it is based on the validity of interpretive research techniques and requires the best method of reviewing qualitative research. It is based on the assumption of a realist ontology, which assumes the existence of real world objects except the human knower (Wilson & Neville, 2009). Through this assumption, it is extremely easy to evaluate the attainment of a given objective.
The methodology of this paradigm is based on the realist approaches, which are a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. In this context, more natural settings and more contextual data are collected. In nursing research, adequate data has to be gathered first to give ample ground for research. Although, it is hard to achieve excellent results for research, nursing researchers should necessary skills to help them attain the highest goals for a given object of research (Weaver & Olson, 2006). For example, prevalence of chronic diseases in a given area must have been identified first before the actual research is carried out.
The reliability of the methodology defined in this paradigm is usually tested through verification of confidence, credibility, plausibility and relevance elements. These elements are mainly realized by researchers who engage in wide understanding of culture, social setting and reality of the subject of study.
The fourth paradigm is the Critical Theorist Paradigm, which is a theoretical tradition that was developed by Horkeimer. It is based on historical ontology and subjectivist epistemology as the assumptions. Historical ontology means that reality is learnable. On the other hand, subjectivist epistemology dictates that researchers cannot separate themselves from what they know, which is a major factor influencing research. The assumptions defined in this paradigm were exclusively fundamental or useful in nursing research (Wilson & Neville, 2009). For example, nursing researchers should not leave any difficult health situation unexplained if it comes up at any point.
The methodology for this paradigm is defined by existence of critical theoretical approaches that rely on dialogic methods, which combine observation and interviewing as approaches to affirm conversation and reflection. In nursing research, this methodology would be used to define proper meaning and implications of the concepts used. Also, it must be respectful to the philosophical ground available for the research (Wilson & Neville, 2009).
The fifth nursing research paradigm would be The Feminist Paradigm. Women have become main targets for poor health and research on their wellbeing should be prioritized. Therefore, this research is based on women and how they are treated on various social settings. In hospitals and clinics this paradigm would be extremely useful to the researcher (Rowley, 2011).
Philosophical research on women should be emphasized in this case. Therefore, research should be emphasized on experimental and quasi designs where grounded theory and historical research should be taken into exclusive consideration.
The main aim of considering the above paradigms in nursing research is to ensure that adequate information concerning nursing has been gathered. This is to ensure that there is excellent life for people within a given community (Whelan, 2008). It is at this point that the nursing research paradigms link with the cultural safety.
In nursing research, cultural safety may be defined as the ability of the research to maintain proper cultural practices of a given area in terms of nursing or medical practices. Therefore, every research should aim at being in line with the cultural practices of the people belonging to the region in which research was supposed to be undertaken. Culturally safe research is usually as a result of behaviors of the people who are being researched. A culturally safe research must be as a result of consideration of ethics of engagement, empowerment, as well as eco-connectives. In such research, the views of the people being researched are critical and must be respected (Munhall, 2012). Therefore, there is need for accessing adequate authority to allow execution of certain research practices. This has led to coining of 4 P’s that may be uniquely used to define the relationship between nursing research paradigms and cultural safety practices.
The first p element represents partnership, which requires researchers to create a space that would assist in building meaningful and progressive research relationships. This aims at affirming the theory of ethics of engagement. This aims at building a relationship with groups that may be considered vulnerable being researched, as well as defining the needs for such groups in relation to the research (Wilson & Neville, 2009). This would ensure that the rights of the majority in that society are respected. For example, a given nursing research on a given disease must be handled with partnership of the research team and members of the society.
The second p element is participation which defines exclusive inclusion of key members of the vulnerable population in the planning phases of a research. Proper advice would be used as guidance for achieving adequate engagement with potential participants and evaluation of the most significant tools for research (Wilson & Neville, 2009). For instance, a nursing research in such regions must involve the knowledge of the medical experts from the area.
The other element is protection. The nursing researcher should be ready to safeguard the vulnerable populations from potential exploitation, and release for dangerous results that would call for further explanations on certain issues. The protection ensures that the beliefs and traditions of certain people are respected (Wilson & Neville, 2009). This is an assurance of the ethical respect for nursing research. For instance, nursing researchers must identify with the beliefs and traditions of the people of the region in which they were willing to conduct research for excellent findings.
The last element is power. This is mainly inclined into knowledge and discourse. While working with vulnerable populations, there is need for exclusive respect for the knowledge epistemology present. In extremely complex researches, the participants should be confident to participate in power sharing agreements with the population of study (Wilson & Neville, 2009). This would ensure corporation in the research. Nursing researchers must respect the vies of the nursing experts within the region of research.
Nursing research is a sensitive filed of research and it requires exclusive measures to be undertaken. This is the cause for definition of research paradigms, which dictate how research should be carried out. They define the most outstanding elements that researchers should respect in their research activities. It is through research elements that need for cultural safety comes in as definition of need for ethical, philosophical and cultural considerations in nursing research.
Munhall, P. L. (2012). Nursing research: a qualitative perspective (5th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Rowley, E. (2011). A socio-cultural perspective on patient safety. Surrey, England: Ashgate.
Weaver, K., & Olson, J. K. (2006). Understanding Paradigms Used For Nursing Research. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 53(4), 459-469.
Whelan, A. K. (2008). Culture, health and inequities: New paradigms, new practice imperatives. Journal of Research in Nursing, 13(2), 149-150.
Wilson, D., & Neville, S. (2009). Culturally safe research with vulnerable populations. Contemporary Nurse , 33(1), 69-79.