Methods: Reviewing the transcripts from four facilitated focus groups and one 1:1 interview, a multidisciplinary team of investigators worked to extract the essential meaning of the mirror viewing phenomenon. The qualitative research approach of hermeneutic phenomenology informed the process, as each investigator provided a naive reading, and gave feedback that informed the evolving structural analysis and phenomenological interpretation, validated in a final focus group that included interested study participants.
Results: Individuals (N=17) who had suffered an amputation of a limb were invited to discuss their mirror experiences in semi-structured audio-taped focus groups. Data was analyzed using Ricoeur’s hermeneutic phenomenology. The trajectory of viewing self in the mirror after an amputation has three key stages: mirror shock, mirror anguish, and acceptance of a new normal as one becomes increasingly comfortable viewing self in the mirror. The participants presented us with a detailed description of how nurses can support amputees in viewing self in the mirror.
Conclusion: The findings of this study provide nurses with a unique perspective of what is often a highly emotional and sensitive experience. While viewing self in a mirror was related as an everyday occurrence, it is not one offered in health care facilities, and that first moment of viewing self is key. This study provides an academic foundation as to why nurses should support individuals when they view self in the mirror after an amputation.