This is my peer answer. Please do like her as my research
Prior to my project proposal, I’d like to discuss what narrative analysis is. A narrative
analysis is the “positioning of characters in time and space to give order to and make
sense of what happened” (Bamberg, nd). Simply put, it is telling a story. Narrative
researchers often attempt to explain what happened, how it came about and what
effects it had (Bamberg, nd). A narrative analysis, however, is more than hearing
someone’s story and documenting it for future generations. It’s drawing conclusions
using story-telling as the means of gathering information.
There are two forms narrative research can take—research on narratives, and research
with narratives. In emergency management, research with narratives is more common,
especially when looking at response case studies and lessons learned. One model of
narrative analysis, and the one I will be using in my project outline is called “thematic
analysis” (Riessman, 2005). Thematic analyses focus more on what is said, not how it’s
said (Riessman, 2005). Researchers using this type of analysis will collect many
stories, pulling from all of them to create groups of the data (Riessman, 2005). For
example, the paper may group stories in bins of “opened the EOC prior to the event”, or
“did not monitor rumor control”, and will then draw conclusions from these bins
(Riessman, 2005). This is the most often used theme, appearing in case studies and
My narrative research project will be determining best practices for hospitals when
responding to hurricanes. In this study I will use a thematic analysis to look at multiple
after action reports, and first person accounts of past hospital responses to
hurricanes. I will then find common links of what everyone did, what everyone forgot,
and what everyone thought of after the fact, and compile them into a list of best
practices. Examples of stories I will use include: a first person account from Tom
Lawhorne in regards to a hurricane that hit one of HCA Healthcare’s locations, the
impact of Hurricane Sandy on a hospital’s emergency and dialysis services, the story of
a psychiatric hospital’s evacuation during Hurricane Katrina, and the experiences of one
New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Gustav.
Questions I will ask include:
How much notice to the hurricane did you have?
What were the predictions of strength and duration?
When did you activate your emergency protocols?
In the case of evacuations: when did you determine you needed evacuations? Did you have plans already in
place for evacuations? When did you start your evacuation?
What complications did you face during response?
Who did you have responding? (Looking at hospital personnel, city partners, healthcare coalitions, police, etc)
Describe the level of resources available to you during the event?
Is there anything you realized after the fact that you wished you remembered or knew during the event?
Where were there hiccups in your plans and how did you react to them?
What do you think was done well during the response?
What could have gone better?
Those last two questions are two key observations to the study, because it gives me
a basis on which to build my “bins” and lessons learned. If I notice a lot of the
stories mentioned they wished they had exercised their plan, then one lesson
learned will be to exercise your plan. One thing about a narrative analysis is that
you are not entering the research gathering with a specific question in mind, or
something to prove. Instead of listening stories through the lense of a specific
question, you keep an open mind and let the information you hear direct where you
are taking your study. This study would be very different if my research question
was “does opening an EOC 48 hours before a hurricane lead to better coordinated
efforts?” Because then I’d constantly be on the look out for information validating my
point, but with a thematic approach you are letting the stories you hear guide your
Bamberg, M. (nd). Narrative Analysis. Clark University. APA Handbook of Research
Methods in Psychology. Retrieved from:
Riessman, C.K. (2005). Narrative Analysis. Narrative, Memory & Everyday
Life. University of Huddersfield. Retrieved from: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/4920/2/
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