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Table 2 Development of themes and sub-themes (an illustration)

From: Registered nurses’ perceptions and experiences of autonomy: a descriptive phenomenological study

Meaning unit Condensed meaning units Subthemes Themes
“I feel that they [nurses] probably don’t have that full understanding of what it means. They know that they are needing to work within their Code of Conduct… I think they’re also aware of the decisions that they need to make and they are aware of the word, but I think that they find it very difficult to describe it in use in practice...I think it’s something that they probably automatically do but don’t really think ‘Ah this is what I am doing’ and put a name to actually being autonomous in their practice” (P38 WM:16y) Autonomy is implied 4.1 Autonomy is experienced on a daily basis 4.Involvement in autonomy
...if there’s no need for them to have IV (intravenous) fluids running and they’re eating and drinking and then you can make a decision to stop the IV fluids” (P22 SN:5y). Autonomy experienced on a daily basis
I think autonomous is just like you do it routine.... it’s like you come to work, you wash the patient… you give them medication, you take your observation and make things comfortable” (P24 SR:22y). Autonomy is routine work
...my junior sister would make a decision to take out a central line, to take out a catheter and to move a patient onto diet and fluids without referring to a doctor over a weekend” (P18 WM:18y). Situational autonomy 4.2 Demonstrating autonomy in exceptional circumstances
I would probably take more of an autonomous role of a weekend in a way, of that leadership… the sisters of a week kind of run the shift don’t they, or the nurse in charge” (P21 SN:2y9m). Situational autonomy