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What Are the Different Types of Nursing Theories?

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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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Nursing theories differ according to who the proponent is. They also vary in using different theoretical frameworks and applying different purposes and goals. Some theories come in the form of nursing models, which are used by nurses to perform their care taking responsibilities and tasks.

One of the very first nursing theories was the Interpersonal Theory in 1952. Developed by the “mother of psychiatric nursing,” Hildegard Peplau, the theory’s goal is to build constant communication and interaction between the patient and the nurse. A patient is defined as an individual who attempts to lessen his anxieties. Nurses who develop a relationship with their patients can help alleviate their anxieties by catering to their needs and offering their companionship. Interaction can also make it easier for the nurse to understand how to help the patient in an effective manner.

In 1960, Faye Abdellah proposed a model called “21 Nursing Problems.” One of the nursing theories that created a model, 21 Nursing Problems is used as a guide for nurses to learn how to provide the best nurturing and treatment to a patient. By identifying which of the 21 problems specifically describes the patient, the nurse becomes a problem-solver whose goal is to meet the patient’s needs. Nurses do not just try to treat the illness, but also look after the patient as a whole. A patient, then, becomes “healthy” when all his needs are met and there is no sign of present or developing sicknesses.

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One of the nursing theories that discussed the concept of “total wellness” was the Systems Theory. Betty Neuman was the proponent of this theory back in 1972. The theory asserts that a human being is a functioning system as a whole, and all his “parts” are interconnected; one affects the other. To attain balance and wellness, the theory’s main goal is the reduction of stress. Through timely interventions, a nurse can help a patient learn how to resist, adapt, and defend himself from any stress factors.

One of the major responsibilities of a nurse is to “care,” around which Jean Watson built her theory, the “Theory of Caring” in 1979. Instead of just an emotion-driven action, “caring” was also studied as both a philosophy and science, with Watson combining elements of Western and Eastern medicine and practices. Watson saw “caring” as an action that can be specifically defined, which led to her “10 Carative Factors. Overall, it is the nurse’s task to encourage patients to have a healthy lifestyle, assist them in bringing back their health, and prevent future sicknesses from recurring. Most, if not all, nursing theories primarily focus on the patient and how nurses, through different methods, can help them.

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