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*Nursing Resources: Theory/Theorists

Guide to research and resources for nursing and allied health.

Theory & Theorists -- Graduate Class Modules

Hildegard E. Peplau -- Theory of Interpersonal Relations (Overview)

Case Studies:

Virginia Henderson -- Fourteen Human Needs

Case Study

Faye Glenn Abdellah - Typology of 21 Nursing Problems

Case Study

Joyce Travelbee -- Human to Human Relationship Model

Florence Nightingale -- Modern Nursing

Case Study

Jean Watson - Watson's Philosophy and Theory of Transpersonal Care

Case study

Patricia Benner -- Caring, Clinical Wisdom and Ethics in Nursing Practice

Case Study

Myra Levine - The Conservation Model

Case Study

Martha Rogers -- Unitary Human Being

Case Study

Imogene A. King - Goal Attainment Theory

Case Study

Betty Neuman -- Systems Model

Case Study

Sister Callista Roy

General Systems Theory

Behavioural Therapy -- Skinner

Holism / Holism in Nursing

Nola Pender - Health Promotion Model

Madeleine M. Leininger - Culture Care Theory

Health Belief Model

Margaret A. Newman - Health as Expanding Consiousness

Rosemarie Parse -- Human becoming

Helen E. Erickson (Tomlin and Swain) Modeling and Rose Modeling

Gladys L. Husted and James H. Husted (Symphonlogical Bioethical Theory)

Merle H. Mishel - Uncertainty in Illness

Pamela Reed: Self Transcedence Theory

Cornelia M. Ruland and Shirley M. Moore (Peaceful End of Life Theory)

Albert Bandura: Self Efficacy, Self-Reliance-Resilience

Family Theories: (Family Development / Family Systems)


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Searching for Nursing Theory / Nursing Theorists

The following tips are from Maribeth Slebodnik, University of Arizona.

Here are some ideas for searching CINAHL for nursing theories:

  • Look in the CINAHL thesaurus for Nursing Theory or Theoretical Nursing Models subject headings.   
  • Search for the name of the theory by putting it in quotes, e.g. "Theory of Human Caring" or "Human Caring Theory".
  • Do an author search for articles written by a specific theorist (e.g. Jean Watson).
  • Try a focused subject search on the specific theory you need; CINAHL has several subject headings for different theoretical models including Orem Self-Care ModelRoy Adaptation ModelWatson's Theory of Caring, etc. 
  • To really narrow down your search, combine a nursing theory subject heading with another subject heading.  For example, if you need information on Orem's theory and patients with cancer, combine the two subject headings of Orem Self-Care Model and Cancer Patients. This may be TOO narrow so be prepared to broaden your search if you end up with no results.

If you are searching PubMed, you can use the same process to find nursing theory articles. The MeSH subject headings in PubMed are Nursing Theory or Nursing Model - combine them with OR plus distinctive words from the theory name for the best results.

Other sources for theory related literature

If you are using a theory that is not from the nursing literature, you may need to look in other databases for relevant articles. You can look in the database thesaurus for subject headings for the theory, or try the theory name in quotation marks as a keyword search.

For educational theories, try the ERIC database.

For behavioral or educational theories, try the PsycINFO database.

Theory Books Print & Electronic Resources


Add'l Theory books