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Posted: November 6th, 2023

A Brief Overview of Nursing Theories

# A Brief Overview of Nursing Theories

Nursing theories are organized bodies of knowledge that define what nursing is, what nurses do, and why they do it. They provide a framework for nursing practice, research, education, and administration. Nursing theories also help nurses to understand their role and contribution to the health care system.

There are many nursing theories and theorists, each with their own perspective and focus. Some of the most influential nursing theorists include Florence Nightingale, Hildegard Peplau, Virginia Henderson, Dorothea Orem, Imogene King, Betty Neuman, Sister Callista Roy, Madeleine Leininger, and Jean Watson. These theorists have developed various models and concepts that address different aspects of nursing, such as the environment, the person, the health, the nursing process, the interpersonal relations, the self-care, the goal attainment, the adaptation, the transcultural care, and the human caring.

Nursing theories can be classified according to different criteria, such as their level of abstraction, their goal orientation, or their historical development. One common way of classifying nursing theories is by their level of abstraction: grand theories, middle-range theories, and practice-level theories. Grand theories are the most abstract and broadest in scope. They provide a general worldview and a philosophical foundation for nursing. Middle-range theories are more specific and testable. They address a particular phenomenon or concept in nursing practice or research. Practice-level theories are the most concrete and narrowest in scope. They guide specific actions or interventions in a particular situation or context.

Nursing theories are important for several reasons. They help nurses to:

– Define the nature and scope of nursing as a distinct profession
– Guide nursing practice and improve the quality of care
– Generate new knowledge and advance nursing science
– Educate future nurses and prepare them for professional roles
– Communicate with other health professionals and collaborate in interdisciplinary teams

Nursing theories are not static or fixed. They evolve over time as new evidence, perspectives, and challenges emerge. Nursing theories reflect the values, beliefs, and goals of the nursing profession and the society at large. Nursing theories also influence and are influenced by the social, cultural, political, and economic factors that affect health and health care.


– Gil Wayne BSN, R.N., Nursing Theories & Theorists: The Definitive Guide for Nurses – Nurseslabs (2023),
– Nursing Theories – Overview (2020),
– Types of Nursing Theories: Concepts, Levels and Uses – Indeed (2023),
– Nursing Theories: An Overview | Bradley University Online (n.d.),

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