The reflexive use of tanka poetry in domestic abuse research

Jenna Breckenridge (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)
    368 Downloads (Pure)


    Domestic abuse research can be emotionally challenging, particularly for qualitative researchers who are immersed in sensitive and, sometimes distressing, participant stories. Reflexivity is essential in sensitive research; however, researchers typically focus their reflexive efforts on how their own perspectives may have influenced the data, rather than how they may have been personally affected by the stories they analyse. In this paper, I reflect on how using poetry in domestic abuse research can help to increase researchers’ sensitivity to emotion, heighten their empathic responses to participants’ stories and promote reflexivity. The use of poetry has gained popularity and various poetic forms have been used to collect, analyse and present qualitative data. Using examples from a recently completed study on domestic abuse, I show how tanka poems can be developed from existing qualitative data to draw together researcher and participant perspectives within the same poem. Originating in 7th century Japan, the tanka is a short, structured poem that conveys strong emotion and authentic voice. To date, tankas are under-utilised in poetic inquiry research and, in sharing my own reflections, I advocate tanka poetry as a creative way of engaging with qualitative data and a useful means of reflexivity in domestic abuse research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)447-460
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
    Issue number5-6
    Early online date16 Jun 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


    • domestic abuse
    • poetic inquiry
    • qualitative
    • reflexivity
    • empathy
    • sensitive research


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