The lived experience of African American female caregivers in a community-based support program: A Heideggerian Hermeneutic study
The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe and interpret the lived experience of African American female caregivers. Through this process common meanings embedded in the experience were uncovered (recovered) and new possibilities for understanding were presented. A purposeful sample of seven (N = 7) caregivers was interviewed using an informal conversation style. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Data were analyzed by the researcher and a team of three interpretive researchers. Common themes and descriptive elements were identified using the seven step hermeneutic process. A constitutive pattern, centeredness, and four themes emerged: tradition, maneuvering, religion, and leaping-in/leaping-ahead. The practice of centering presented as the major finding of the research. This pattern exemplified how maintaining a balance became pervasive in the lives of the caregivers and linked the other relational themes. Other new understandings included the denial that caregiving is a burden. Another word, obligation, that is found in caregiving literature was not reflective of feelings and attitudes of these participants. Further research with underrepresented groups is needed to determine how to support caregivers in a culturally sensitive method. These findings should warn researchers to validate labels such as burden, problem, and obligation with participants before assuming such labels describe groupings or clusters of data.