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A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Research

Beck, Cheryl Tatano DNSc, CNM, FAAN

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: July-August 2002 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 214-221
feature articles: mothering multiples

Increasing numbers of qualitative studies in maternal-child nursing are being published. However, clinical application and knowledge development based on those studies will be hampered unless the rich understandings gleaned from these individual studies can be synthesized. Meta-synthesis is one technique to help accumulate knowledge from qualitative research. The first section of this article explains the technique of meta-synthesis and reviews meta-syntheses published in nursing. The focus then becomes an illustration of a meta-synthesis in maternal-child nursing: Mothering multiples during the first year of life. Six qualitative studies comprised the sample for the meta-synthesis. The meta-synthesis revealed a shared set of five themes that help increase our understanding of mothering multiples: “bearing the burden,” “riding an emotional roller coaster,” “lifesaving support,” “striving for maternal justice,” and “acknowledging individuality.” Implications for practice derived from this meta-synthesis are addressed.

Cheryl Tatano Beck is a Professor of Nursing, University of Connecticut, School of Nursing, Storrs, CT. She can be reached c/o University of Connecticut, School of Nursing U-26, 231 Glenbrook Road, Storrs, CT 06269-2026 (e-mail:

Copyright © 2002 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved