Things You Should Know About Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: A Complete Guide


IPA is a qualitative approach. IPA stands for interpretative phenomenological analysis. In this approach, the use of literature is not considered worthy. Although all pre-existing theories are precise, they cannot be used for further experimentation in IPA. The approach of interpretative phenomenological analysis ensures fresh personal experiments with every new experience. In any research, participants play an important role. The performance and role of the participant vary from objective to objective. The one aspect related to the participant is that person who is under study. For example, you are from the field of medicine. Your research demands the study of diabetes. Here, a participant can be a patient with diabetes. You can use that person for experiments in your research. One thing needs to be very clear: whatever your action is, it must be allowed by a professional doctor. In this way, experiment and treatment go side by side.

Similarly, using interpretative phenomenological analysis is to study experiences that have been lived. It explores different events and experiences for an individual. The study can be done for a group of people, but the number of members is always specified. As per the advisor’s instruction, you need to select group members. Hence, this article aims to discuss different aspects of interpretative phenomenological analysis in light of its importance.

What is Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) Data Analysis?

The interpretative phenomenological analysis is a qualitative approach that is used in the field of psychology. The main goal of IPA is to get insight into a particular issue. The sector of health psychology uses IPA very frequently. The data analysis of IPA is used to test a hypothesis with collected data. The collected data is in a descriptive form coded in a specified way. The bottom-up techniques are used in the data analysis of IPA. So, data analysis is a detailed process that helps in using a research technique. Based on that technique, the issue is addressed, and conclusions are made. However, if you are facing any problems in utilizing the technique, you can get Ph.D. dissertation help.

How is Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) Different from Thematic Analysis?

The interpretative phenomenological analysis is different from thematic analysis in terms of method and characteristics. The interpretative phenomenological analysis is a methodology that generates a proper framework. This framework includes every step for conducting IPA. Also, the characteristic of IPA does not match to thematic analysis. IPA includes all details related to a research question, its type, and the sampling strategy. The most commonly observed sampling strategy is homogenous. Another sampling strategy is small N.

On the other hand, thematic analysis is just a method, not a methodology. It does not follow a particular strategy for sampling. All of the characteristics of an individual are focused on interpretative phenomenological analysis, while thematic analysis does not do so.

How do you use IPA Analysis?

The steps to use interpretative phenomenological analysis are mentioned below:

  • First of all, you need to make notes. For making notes, it is advised to read again and again. The transcript needs prime importance over here. If you have one participant, focus on his responses. On the other hand, if you have a group of participants, every participant’s transcript needs equal focus. Each of the statements from the participant’s side can be coded in a specified way.
  • From the collected responses, make a theme. There can be one or more than one themes.
  • Make a structure of all the themes.
  • Generate a summary of all the themes.
  • Make an in-depth conclusion.

Why is IPA the Best Approach for Research?

The interpretative phenomenological analysis is considered the best approach for research. The reasons for considering interpretative phenomenological analysis as the best approach are given below:

Detailed Study

If you compare the interpretative phenomenological analysis approach with other research approaches, you will see that IPA is a more detailed one. In this, an objective statement is made, and it is studied for health psychology.

Focus on Experience of Individual

In an interpretative phenomenological analysis, the participant’s perspective matters a lot. Here, the terms of individual and participant are the same. The individual is free to share his feelings. He is allowed to express everything freely. To study the participant, different ways can be used. It includes an in-person interview, observation, and communication.

Natural Data

Another reason for considering interpretative phenomenological analysis as the best approach is that it provides natural data. The data collected through IPA can be unique. Every individual may have a unique point of view for a particular perspective. The unique perspective of an individual contributes to unique data. No past data is used in IPA. The use of fresh data develops strong results.

Development of Theories

Whenever you come up with some unique data, it helps you develop new theories. As interpretative phenomenological analysis is a qualitative approach, as per its approach type, the purpose of IPA is clear. In the qualitative approach, the development of new theories is common. The purpose of theory development is to discuss an issue in detail.

Inductive Study

The interpretative phenomenological analysis is an inductive study. The inductive method is the one that develops theories from the observation of participants. The pattern of observation and the evidence in the form of personal observation assist in a sound conclusion of the study.

Study different Aspects

The approach of interpretative phenomenological analysis does not work on a single aspect only. The issue is one, but its study includes different aspects linked with it. The study of different aspects makes it easy to end up with something practical.

All these reasons make interpretative phenomenological analysis one of the best approaches for research.

Final Thoughts

Almost everything related to interpretative phenomenological analysis has been discussed above. If you understand all of the abovementioned points, you can have a practical, interpretative phenomenological analysis.