Researching the Experience of Caring for a Military Veteran Partner With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Using Interpretive Phenomenology
Lawn, Sharon Joy
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Under the supervision of the coauthors, the lead author undertook doctoral research examining the ‘lived experience’ of caring for an Australian military veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the perspective of the intimate partner. PTSD is a common mental health condition for military veterans, yet there has been very limited investigation into the partners’ experience of these caring relationships. In this research, an interpretive phenomenological approach was used to collect data through individual face-to-face interviews with 20 female partners of male veterans diagnosed with PTSD. In this case study, we discuss the challenges that confronted the lead author as a novice researcher in accessing a sample population, in remaining alert to the sensitivities in interviews with potentially traumatized participants, and in managing her own emotional reactions to the interview data. This case highlights the need for researcher preparation in pre-empting issues that may arise, and the importance of access to skilled supervision for students undertaking research with a sensitive and vulnerable population.