Application of Theory to Practice

Application of Theory to Practice

This week’s Learning Resources present information about various types of theories. For this Discussion, you will examine some of these theories and evaluate how theory is utilized in research as well as how it informs your nursing practice.

To prepare:

Review the Learning Resources focusing on the different types of theories that are relevant for nursing practice.

Locate a scholarly article in the professional nursing literature that discusses a middle range or practice theory. Determine if the theory is descriptive, explanatory, predictive, or prescriptive in nature.

With this in mind, consider how nursing theory is utilized in research. For instance, how might this theory be useful for identifying a research problem?

Then, reflect on your nursing practice. As indicated in Chapter 2 of Theoretical Basis for Nursing, theories differ in scope—from the more abstract metatheory and grand theories to the more concrete middle range and practice theories. Brainstorm examples of how theory is applied in your nursing practice. Identify one to share in this Discussion.
By Day 3 post a cohesive response that addresses the following:

Summarize your selected article, identifying the middle range or practice theory utilized, and explaining whether the theory was descriptive, explanatory, predictive, or prescriptive. (Include the APA citation for the article.)

Describe the value of theory for nursing research. Be specific.

Share an example of how theory is applied in your nursing practice.





Application of Nursing Theory

Kristen Swanson developed the theory of caring. It is a middle-range theory that seeks to understand what caring entails and how it impacts health outcomes. Swanson conducted empirical, qualitative studies on patients’ feelings and their reactions to specific caregiver actions. The findings identify five key aspects of caring: knowing, being with, doing for, enabling, and maintaining belief (Swanson, 1991). The theory of caring is prescriptive since its concepts are guidelines for enhancing care and developing practical interventions for future improvements.

The theory is fundamental to nursing research since each concept addresses an essential aspect of a study. ‘Knowing’ and ‘being with’ helps the research identify viable issues that require addressing. Researchers must know what problems present the greatest challenge to a population. Therefore, they need to know through data analysis and interacting with population members. ‘Doing for’ assists in methodology development. Researchers can observe current practices which will enable them to develop primary and control actions for their studies. Finally, ‘enabling’ and ‘maintaining belief’ help researchers implement effective evidence-based interventions. The two concepts focus on the population by empowering them physically and emotionally to overcome the healthcare challenges.

Swanson’s theory of caring applies to my workplace. For example, when a patient is receiving treatment for a chronic illness, caregivers incorporate all five concepts. First, they understand the patients’ medical needs. They then build relationships to enable them to identify their emotional needs. Next, the caregivers provide interventions to improve their interim condition, after which they train them on how to maintain their health outside the hospital setup. Finally, caregivers encourage the patients in adjusting their lives to sustain the interventions’ impact. Therefore, the theory is relevant and applicable to nursing care.




Swanson, K. M. (1991). Empirical Development of a Middle Range Theory of Caring. Nursing Research, 40(3), 161-166.