To understand a nursing theory better, it can be helpful to explore the background of the theorist. This is particularly relevant for the founder of modern nursing as a separate discipline—Florence Nightingale. She was the first theorist to create a conceptual framework of nursing and to define key terms. Moreover, she introduced a system of organizing nurses’ work based on her theory. To address the issues of the theory’s effectiveness, justification, and applicability, one can examine Nightingale’s experience.
First of all, such an examination will add to the credibility and reliability of Nightingale’s theoretic work. Alligood (2014) stresses that Nightingale’s efforts in describing the conditions in which nurses worked in England and in Crimea during the Crimean War allow acknowledging the theorist as “an outstanding scientist and empirical researcher” (p. 64). In applying the theory, a practitioner should compare the context in which it was developed to the conditions in which he or she is going to apply it and should adjust the theory accordingly.
A major strength of Watson’s theory is that it is largely based on other theorists’ work. She analyzed the approaches to teaching nursing as she was going through the experience of learning to nurse herself, and her class notes eventually evolved into her first book.
For example, she based her concept of the ten carative factors on Yalom’s concept of the 11 curative factors (Alligood, 2014). A major weakness, however, is that Watson’s works are largely theoretical, and the applicability of her theory is questionable. His theory can be used as a moral basis for nursing, but the abstract concepts that she developed and used in her work may be hard to practice.
Alligood, M. R. (2014). Nursing theorists and their work (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.