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Exploring using NVivo software to facilitate inductive coding for thematic narrative synthesis

02 November 2021
Volume 29 · Issue 11
Figure 1. Psychological vulnerability exploration of coding relationships between papers explored
Figure 1. Psychological vulnerability exploration of coding relationships between papers explored



The author conducted a review on how power and hierarchy affect staff safety in maternity services, using a narrative synthesis of staff voices from relevant literature. The review was coded using NVivo software. This article aims to evaluate NVivo as a tool for thematic narrative synthesis.


Selected papers were coded inductively using NVivo software, a subjective idealist approach to knowledge where iteration is achieved at the coding and synthesis stages of the process.


NVivo proved to be a versatile tool; the imported files could be word or pdf, the import tab made it possible to upload images and audio files and information could be transferred from OneNote, Outlook and bibliographic software such as Endnote and RefWorks. NVivo software provided numerous options to explore data within different tabs. Users could create relationships between files and there were opportunities to display the findings in word clouds, hierarchies and clusters.


NVivo was a user-friendly tool for a novice user, facilitating coding for thematic narrative synthesis. A discussion of the review findings were explored in a previous article.

This article explores the use of NVivo software for inductive coding in thematic narrative synthesis. This software was used in a review conducted by the author (Elliot-Mainwaring, 2021). The research objective of the review was to identify how power and hierarchy affect staff safety in maternity services through the methodology of a narrative synthesis of staff voices from relevant literature. The aim was to discuss staff safety in effectively speaking out, while acknowledging that patients are receiving poor care. The author's question was that if patients are saying that they are receiving poor care, what are the staff saying? Power and hierarchy may have positive influences on staff safety; however, the search strategy employed within the study ensured a particular focus on the adverse impact for the synthesis. Justification for this topic of enquiry has already been discussed in the previous paper ‘How do power and hierarchy influence staff safety in maternity services?’ (Elliott-Mainwaring, 2021). This article focuses on an evaluation of using NVivo as a novice user within a narrative synthesis.

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