A Critical Hermeneutic Analysis of Presence in Nursing Practice

Alicia L. Bright, Department of Nursing, Dominican University of California


Nursing presence, although it involves action at times, is a humanitarian quality of relating to a patient that is known to have powerful and positive implications for both nurse and patient. However, this phenomenon has not been well understood. Three theories, drawn from the work of Paul Ricoeur and Hans-Georg Gadamer, served as the boundaries for both data collection and analysis. The theories were narrative identity, play and solicitude. This study follows a critical hermeneutic approach to field research and data analysis. Literature regarding nursing presence is reviewed and discussed, and in-depth conversations with eleven participants are recorded. Examining the phenomenon of nursing presence through the hermeneutic lenses of narrative identity, play and solicitude has elucidated the role of ethical orientation, creativity and connection with the human experience through exploration of self and other. This more nuanced and complex understanding adds depth to the conversation and offers new possibilities to the effort to encourage and support presence in nursing practice.