Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Overview

Differentiation of Terms
  • Concept
  • Conceptual framework
  • Paradigm
  • Metaparadigm
  • Theory
  • Abstract ideas or mental images of phenomena or reality
  • Often called the “building blocks” of theories
  • Examples: mass, energy, ego, id
  • A pattern of shared understanding and assumptions about reality and the world
  • Include notions of reality that are largely unconscious or taken for granted
  • Derived from cultural beliefs
  • Examples: time, space
  • Concepts that can be superimposed on other concepts
  • Four major metaparadigms in nursing
    • Person
    • Environment
    • Health
    • Nursing
  • Supposition or system of ideas proposed to explain a given phenomenon
  • Attempt to explain relationships between concepts
  • Offer ways to conceptualize central interests of a discipline
  • Example: Freud’s theory of the Unconscious
Purposes of Nursing Theory
  1. Link among nursing theory, education, research, and clinical practice
  2. Contributes to knowledge development
  3. May direct education, research, and Practice
The Living Tree of Nursing Theories
Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Overview
Criteria for Evaluating Theoretical Work

Clarity- “How clear is this theory?”
  • Words often have multiple meanings within and across disciplines; therefore words should be defined carefully and specifically to the framework (philosophy, conceptual model, or theory) from which it is derived.
  • Diagrams and examples may facilitate clarity and should be consistent.
Simplicity- “How simple is the theory?”
  • Theory should have as few concepts as possible with simplistic relations to aid clarity.
  • “The most useful theory provides the greatest sense of understanding.”
Generality- “How general is this theory?”
  • To determine the generality of theory, the scope of concepts and goals within the theory are examined.
  • “The broader the scope, the greater the significance of the theory.”
Empirical precision- “How accessible is the theory?”
  • Empirical precision is linked to the testability and ultimate use of a theory and it refers to the”extent that the defined concepts are grounded in observable reality”.
Derivable Consequences- “How important is this theory?”
  • Propose that if research, theory, and practice are to be meaningfully related, then nursing theory should lend itself to research testing and research testing should lead to knowledge that guides practice.
  • Indicates that to be considered useful, “it is essential for theory to develop and guide practice.