Unstructured observation involving “going into the field” to describe and analyze what is seen and heard, may be an underutilized method in nursing research. The role of the observer, the nature of the observations, data sources, systematic recording and analysis of observations, appropriate analysis of the data, and corroboration of findings are important considerations when ensuring rigour in observational methods. However, the description of observational techniques and methods provided in published accounts of qualitative research is sparse, and it is therefore difficult to evaluate the truthfulness, credibility, and trustworthiness of many research studies. Observational methods can address discrepancies between what people say and what they actually do, and they can capture the context in which nurses practice. Little is known about the oral hygiene care practices of nurses caring for hospitalized older adults with longer lengths of stay, despite the link between poor oral hygiene and systemic illness. To date, the oral hygiene care provided by nurses has not been directly observed, nor have unstructured observational techniques been used to observe any caregivers providing such interventions. In the absence of studies related to oral hygiene care, an integrative review of the literature has been undertaken to critically analyze how rigour was ensured in qualitative or mixed - methods studies in which observational methods were used to study nurses as they provided other types of basic nursing interventions. Whittemore and Knafl’s revised integrative review method was utilized, and criteria that would indicate rigour in a study were gleaned from the literature to create a framework for analysis.


Observational Methods, Participant Observation, Nurses

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.




Submission Location


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.