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Kolcaba’s Comfort & Duffy’s Quality Caring Theories


There are different approaches to nursing and its importance in modern healthcare. Two of the most famous models are Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory and Duffy’s Quality Caring Model. Both of them emphasize the importance of improving the existing system by introducing new standards of care. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on them and draw conclusions on their advantages and possible challenges.

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Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory

The Theory of Comfort was developed in the 1990s by Katharine Kolcaba who put comfort at the forefront of healthcare and nursing. This approach has a holistic perspective where comfort is divided into three states – ease, relief, and transcendence – and met in four contexts of experience – physical, psychospiritual, sociocultural, and environmental (Bergström et al., 2018). Therefore, nursing includes assessing the patient’s need for comfort and developing a healthcare protocol around meeting these needs.

The use of the Comfort Theory by nurses can help in improving the comfort of patients. It allows dealing not only with bodily sensations such as pain or nausea, but tackle issues connected to patients’ psychological state, usual cultural behaviors, family, and an environmental setting. Nurses are expected to comfort patients when they feel anxious about medical procedures, acknowledge different practices according to patients’ backgrounds, and make sure patients feel comfortable in their beds or rooms. With different comfort needs being met, the patient might feel safer and recover quickly.

However, the Comfort Theory, although being quite a practical approach, as suggested in various studies, requires significant resources. While nurses are generally more used to identify patients’ needs in the physical and environmental context, they might find it more difficult to relieve psychospiritual and sociocultural needs. Observing the need for emotional relief or a particular cultural factor might be challenging for nurses and require additional training. Moreover, special nurse training and the necessity to implement this protocol as a universal practice would demand considerable financial investments.

Duffy’s Quality Caring Model

The Quality Caring Model was developed by Joanne Duffy and is targeted at building meaningful relationships between patients and healthcare providers. It was developed in 2003 with the focus on establishing caring relationships between a caregiver and a patient. The idea is that feeling cared about influences positive health outcomes for patients and families.

Eight caring factors comprise caring relationships that the Quality Caring Model centers on. They are mutual problem solving, attentive reassurance, respect, encouragement, appreciation of meanings, healing environment, affiliation, and basic human needs (Salinas et. al, 2020). These behaviors used by the nurses might potentially lead to positive immune responses and influence patients’ well-being. It can also have a positive effect on establishing better attitudes towards healthcare and nursing.

However, there are also some complications that the implementation of this model might pose. Caring relationships require nurses to have more than qualifications but the ability to empathize and invest in everyday work. These skills are not possible to build overnight and require better financial rewards. Being already demanding, the nurses’ job would become even more challenging, which might lead to an even more significant shortage of these employees.

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With their approaches to nursing, both Kolcaba and Duffy created opportunities to improve healthcare by going beyond addressing solely medical issues. Both methods focus on establishing relationships with the patient and providing relief to their emotional and other needs. Moreover, each of these approaches, though setting serious challenges to the system of nurse training and medical service in general, proves to be productive and rewarding.


Bergström, A., Håkansson, Å., Stomberg, M. W., & Kristofer, B. (2018). Comfort theory in practice – nurse anesthetists’ comfort measures and interventions in a preoperative context. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 33(2), 162–171. Web.

Salinas, M., Salinas, N., Duffy, J.R., & Davidson, J. (2020). Do caring behaviors in the quality caring model promote the human emotion of feeling cared for in hospitalized stroke patients and their families? Applied Nursing Research. Advance online publication. Web.

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