The Lived Experience of Nursing Appalachia


Purpose: Research in rural areas presents special challenges for sampling and recruitment. Examples of considerations include smaller sampling population, privacy concerns, and the rural context. The purpose of this article is to discuss the results of sampling and recruitment strategies within this study.

Sample: Nurses form a central hub of health care in rural communities. However, little is known about the lived experience of nurses serving in this capacity. This study explored stories of nurses in a six-county area of three adjoining states in rural South Central Appalachia.

Method: Recruitment for the study was completed using state boards of nursing social marketing strategies and snowball sampling.

Findings: Sampling and recruitment efforts enlisted 15 participants. The sample was deemed representative of the population as participants represented diverse employment contexts, education preparation levels, licensure duration, and multiple generations.

Conclusions: Understanding implications of rural setting and cultural context are critical to successful recruitment and sampling. Privacy considerations may still be concerning, however, multiple de-identification strategies serve to help lessen this risk. Social marketing strategies failed to recruit the needed number of participants secondary to the fact that participants from only one state were recruited in this manner. Smaller population pool limitations were eased by snowball sampling, an approved recruitment method in qualitative research. Future researchers should be cognizant of the influence of rurality norms and cultural context on recruitment and sampling efforts. Social marketing proved less successful than snowball sampling strategies. Further research is needed to develop best practice for rural recruitment and sampling via social marketing. Finally, time and resource commitment for participation can be a barrier. Flexibility in scheduling interviews, location of interview sites, and the availability of audio/phone interviews served to facilitate agreement to participate.

Key words: rural, nursing, Appalachia, research, sampling, recruitment

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