Explore BrainMass

Four Basic Metaparadigm Concepts in Nursing

Need one theory and discuss where and how it may be best applied to nursing practice.
Include to selected theory, the following:
Concept statement
Conceptual mode.

Solution Preview

Nursing Theories: An Overview
Last updated on March 1, 2011

?A theory is a group of related concepts that propose action that guide practice.

?A nursing theory is a set of concepts, definitions, relationships, and assumptions or propositions derived from nursing models or from other disciplines and project a purposive, systematic view of phenomena by designing specific inter-relationships among concepts for the purposes of describing, explaining, predicting, and /or prescribing.

?Kerlinger ---views theories as a set of interrelated concepts that give a systematic view of a phenomenon (an observable fact or event) that is explanatory and predictive in nature.

?Theories are composed of concepts, definitions, models , propositions and are based on assumptions.

?They are derived through two principal methods:
1) Deductive reasoning

2) Inductive reasoning.

?Nursing theorists use both of these methods.

?Nursing Theory: Barnum(1998)---- "attempts to describe or explain the phenomenon (process, occurrence and event) called nursing"

?Theories are for professional nursing

?Theory is "a creative and rigorous structuring of ideas that projects a tentative, purposeful, and systematic view of phenomena"

?A theory makes it possible to "organize the relationship among the concepts to describe, explain, predict, and control practice"


Concepts--- are basically vehicles of thought that involve images.

?Concepts are words that describe objects , properties, or events and are basic components of theory.
Types of Concepts:

?Empirical concepts

?Inferential concepts

?Abstract concepts.

Models ----- are representations of the interaction among and between the concepts showing patterns.

Propositions---- are statements that explain the relationship between the concepts.

Process ---- it is a series of actions , changes or functions intended to bring about a desired result . During a process one takes systemic and continuous steps to meet a goal and uses both assessments and feedback to direct actions to the goal.

?A particular theory or conceptual frame work directs how these actions are carried out . The delivery of nursing care within the nursing process is directed by the way specific conceptual frameworks and theories define the person (patient), the environment, health and nursing.

?The terms 'model' and 'theory' are often wrongly used interchangeably, which further confounds matters.

?In nursing, models are often designed by theory authors to depict the beliefs in their theory (Lancaster and Lancaster 1981).

?They provide an overview of the thinking behind the theory and may demonstrate how theory can be introduced into practice, for example, through specific methods of assessment.

?Models are useful as they allow the concepts in nursing theory to be successfully applied to nursing practice (Lancaster and Lancaster 1981).

?Their main limitation is that they are only as accurate or useful as the underlying theory.


?Nursing theory aims to describe, predict and explain the phenomenon of nursing (Chinn and Jacobs1978).

?It should provide the foundations of nursing practice, help to generate further knowledge and indicate in which direction nursing should develop in the future (Brown 1964).

?Theory is important because it helps us to decide what we know and what we need to know (Parsons1949).

?It helps to distinguish what should form the basis of practice by explicitly describing nursing.

?The benefits of having a defined body of theory in nursing include better patient care, enhanced professional status for nurses, improved communication between nurses, and guidance for research and education (Nolan 1996). In addition, because the main exponent of nursing - caring - cannot be measured, it is vital to have the theory to analyze and explain what nurses do.

?As medicine tries to make a move towards adopting a more multidisciplinary approach to health care, nursing continues to strive to establish a unique body of knowledge.

?This can be seen as an attempt by the nursing profession to maintain its professional boundaries.



?interrelate concepts in such a way as to create a different way of looking at a particular phenomenon.

?are logical in nature.

?are generalizable.

?are the bases for hypotheses that can be tested.

?increase the general body of knowledge within the discipline through the research implemented to validate them.

?are used by the practitioners to guide and improve their practice.

?are consistent with other validated theories, laws, and principles but will leave open unanswered questions that need to be investigated


Nursing theories are often based on and influenced by broadly applicable processes and theories. Following theories are basic to many nursing concepts.

A. General System Theory:

?It describes how to break whole things into parts and then to learn how the parts work together in " systems".

?These concepts may be applied to different kinds of systems, e.g.. Molecules in chemistry , cultures in sociology, organs in Anatomy and health in Nursing.

B. Adaptation Theory

?It defines adaptation as the adjustment of living matter to other living things and to environmental conditions.

?Adaptation is a continuously occurring process that effects change and involves ...

Solution Summary

Four Basic Metaparadigm Concepts in Nursing

A metaparadigm is a concept that is extremely general, one that serves to define an entire world of thought. "Meta" means "that which is behind," in Greek, and refers to that which under-girds something else, serving as a conceptual basis. In her seminal (1984, cited in Slevin) work, "Analysis and Evaluation of Conceptual Models of Nursing," Jacqueline Fawcett developed the basic four metaparadigms of nursing. More recently, these have been revised by Basford and Slevin (2003) and serve to underpin the entire conceptual universe of the nursing profession.

* Person
This paradigm refers to the sick individual not as a "patient," but as a "subject," a person in the full sense of the word. This includes families and social groups that have come to define the person as such. This person is unique and autonomous, and should be treated as such. A real person is not a mere object of professional care and surveillance.

* Health
Like all meta-concepts, health is immensely general. It does not deal with health in a strictly clinical manner. It concerns nurses as medical professionals (rather than as mere adjuncts to doctors). At the same time, it defines "health" in abstract terms, in that health is "negotiated" and "contextual," in the words of Slevin. Health is not an absolute concept, but exists in the context of the health problems of the individual. A person suffering with cancer considers a good, healthy day as one where they do not die or suffer immensely. But this is no definition of "health" for the perfectly healthy individual. These terms are negotiable given the context of the suffering.

* Environment
This metaparadigm serves to explain the full context of health care and of nursing specifically. It is little less than the totality of all things that impact on the recovery of the patient. Home life, mental state, addictions, physical pain, chances of relapse, rewarding work and a host of other variables come to define the context of recovery. All of these clearly impact recovery, or even the patient's desire for recovery. This also includes social and cultural dimensions such as religious belief and general attitudes toward death and suffering.

* Nursing
Nursing itself is a meta-theory that seeks to help contextualize nursing. While this might sound strange, Slevin translates "nursing" into "caring." In general, this refers to any "hands-on" medical treatment from nurse to patient. It is the paradigm of compassion, the reason why nurses become nurses: to help and ease suffering. It is an intensely ethical and emotional paradigm that goes to the root of nursing as a profession with its own set of rewards.