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Japan Journal of Nursing Science (2008) 5, 71



Nursing theory – remembering our future
Modern nursing theory began with Virginia Henderson in the 1960s. In her grand theory of nursing, she defined nursing as “assisting individuals to gain independence in the performance of activities contributing to health or its recovery (Henderson, 1966, p. 15). Since the 1970s, the literature on nursing theory has focused upon two levels of nursing theories: the “grand nursing theory” and the “middle-range nursing theory.” Grand nursing theories are broad in scope and often emphasize relationships that are difficult to actually test. Examples of grand nursing theories include Rogers “science of unitary human being”, Newman’s “health and expanding consciousness”, and Parse’s “theory of human becoming” in addition to Henderson. Middle range theories are more modest in scope and have the potential to be validated through research. Examples include Rogers’ “theory of accelerating change,” Roy’s “theory of the person as an adaptive system, and King’s “theory of goal attainment.” Educators spent a great deal of energy moving middle range theories into the academic curriculum, care planning processes, and languages that purported to capture clinical practice. Today there seems to be less of a need for nursing to have its “own” theory that describes how human beings live, adapt, become ill, recover, and heal. Rather, nursing science utilizes both physiological processes and social cognitive theories to attempt to understand individuals, families, and communities and how they experience their health, illness, and wellness. At the same time, today there is great excitement and energy focused upon evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence as strategies for building our knowledge for effective nursing practice. Often these two models represent a quantitative and qualitative perspective, sometimes a deductive and inductive...
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