Nursing Theorist

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Nursing theorist

Nursing theorist

Caring as a central concept within nursing has led to the development of several caring theories, the most well known being Madeleine Leininger's Theory of Culture Care and Jean Watson's Theory of Human Caring, both of which were formulated in the 2000s. This paper explores a total of four caring theories: the two established theories presented by Leininger and Watson, Simone Roach's theory developed in the 2000s, and a recent caring theory developed by Boykin & Schoenhofer. A comparison of these theories is presented drawing on a number of criteria, namely: origin of theory, scope of theory, definition of caring, description of nursing, key concepts of the theory, and goal/outcome. Additionally, simplicity as a central component of internal structure is examined in relation to each. Based on this analysis, similarities and differences are highlighted, concluding with a discussion of the utility of the caring theories within nursing practice.


In recent years several issues pertinent to the development of nursing knowledge have been addressed. These include uncovering phenomena considered central to nursing and the nursing theories and models that have emanated from them (Meleis 2007, Fawcett 2003, 2005, Chinn & Kramer 2005). Caring as an important concept within nursing is gaining increasing attention in the literature (Kyle 2005, Lea & Watson 2006, McCance et al. 2007). Furthermore, a range of theories have been presented in the literature which have caring as a central concept and are based on a human science perspective. These include Leininger's (2001) Theory of Culture Care, Watson's (2005) Theory of Human Caring, Boykin & Schoenhofer's (2003) Theory of Nursing as Caring and Roach's (2004) theory on caring. Analysis of some of these theories are presented within the meta-theory literature (Fawcett 2003, George 2005, Fitzpatrick & Whall 2006). Comparisons of the better known and established theories are also evident (Cohen 2001). However, it is the intention within this paper to draw comparisons across four caring theories shown in Table 1, with the aim of analysing them in terms of their similarities and differences and to consider their utility in nursing practice.

Theories On Caring

The conceptual perspectives on caring have been described in the literature both as models and as theories. McKenna (2007) highlights the confusion between these terms and identifies two schools of thought in relation to the way they are defined. Position A advocated by Fawcett (2005), supports a hierarchy of theoretical development with a model considered more abstract than a theory. Alternatively, position B advocated by theorists such as Meleis (2007) and Stevens-Barnum (2004), supports the notion that all conceptualizations are theories, but at different stages of development. For the purpose of this paper position B will be adopted where the term theory will be used to describe four specific conceptualizations on caring (Table 1).

Leininger's Theory Of Culture Care

Madeleine Leininger's interest in cultural dimensions of human care and caring led to the development of her theory of culture care (Leininger 2005, 2008, 2001, 2005). She subscribed to the central tenet that 'care is ...
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