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Levine’s Conservation Theory in Healthcare Research

The theoretical framework is used as a basis for many modern research studies. It provides structure and theoretical backing for a study and allows tying in facts and theories gathered from supporting sources and literature into a cohesive system (Green, 2014). Although not explicitly stated in every research, most of them are based on one theoretical framework or another. This paper is dedicated to overviewing and describing the guiding propositions of Levin’s Conservation theory and explaining how it is used in current ongoing research.

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Overview and Guiding Proposals of Levine’s Conservation Theory

Myra Estrin Levine is regarded as one of the most famous nurses of her lifetime. Although it was never her intention to create an official nursing theory, the results of her work are widely used in modern medical research practices. Her model, known as Levine Conservation Model, is focused on promoting adaptation and maintaining the wholeness of a patient’s wellbeing using conservational methods. These goals are accomplished through practices that promote conservation of energy, structure, social constructs, and personal drives and desires.

Levine’s conservation theory is built on meta paradigms first introduced by Florence Nightingale, who expanded on them in her works. These meta paradigms are the environment, patient, health, and nursing. These holistic concepts are congruent with the idea of wholeness, which Levine’s conservation model is seeking to preserve (“The four metaparadigms,” 2013). The differences show when we look at the key concepts proposed by Levine.

Her theoretical frameworks are based on four principles of conservation. These principles are:

  • The principle of conservation of energy.
  • The principle of conservation of structural integrity.
  • The principle of conservation of personal integrity.
  • The principle of conservation of social integrity.

The first principle reflects the input and output of energy in a patient. This principle is fundamental for all medical programs aimed at healing the patient through introducing an organized regimen of rest, healing procedures, and physical and mental activities (“Four conservation principles,” 2016).

The principle of structural integrity relates to performing actions that promote healing and maintaining the patient’s mind, soul, and body at a healthy level. These measures promote healing in case the patient is not feeling well, and promote prophylactic measures should the patient feel fine, to prevent possible disease (“Levine’s four conservation principles,” 2012).

The third principle recognizes the patient as a person, whose life, rights, thoughts, dreams, and desires have inherent value and must be respected at all times. This principle is largely related to Nightingale’s Person metaparadigm, and it is there to safeguard the patients and their rights (“Myra Estrin Levine,” 2016).

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Lastly, the fourth principle recognizes the patient as a social creature that exists within social constructs. The purpose of this principle is to facilitate the patient’s activities as part of a group, a family, and the society, to facilitate the patient’s mental and emotional health, and prevent possible deterioration (“Myra Levine’s conservation theory,” 2009).

Application of Levine’s Theory to My Study

The scope of my research is the benefits of using pulsed electromagnetic therapy to alleviate pain in diabetic neuropathy patients as an alternative to the application of strong and potentially harmful painkillers (“Pulsed EMF,” 2015). In my study, I used Myra Levine’s conservational theory as a framework to base my study. It provides a unique perspective on the subject of the research, as I am viewing it through the prism of all four principles of conservation.

From the perspective of the conservation of energy, the application of pulsed electromagnetic therapy will be extremely beneficial to a patient’s regimen of rest and activity. Many drugs used in diabetic neuropathy induce dizziness and have many unwanted side effects, which could interfere with a patient’s activities, forcing him or her to base her activities around these inhibitions. Pulsed electromagnetic therapy has no known side effects that would interfere with a patient’s daily schedule.

The impact of PEMF on a patient’s structural integrity is much greater. Drug treatment has to deal with the constant threat of polypharmacy and balance out negative reactions between many drugs used at the same time. PEMF has no side effects to speak of, thus having no negative impact on the structural integrity of an organism.

The third principle of Levine’s theory applies to any research performed in the medical field. It outlines the boundaries of the research and ensures the rights of all patients who would undergo PEMF therapy, should the concept prove applicable in modern medicine. This principle touches their rights to be consciously aware of the procedure and be able to refuse it, should they so desire.

The last concept provides an interesting perspective that will be covered in my research. PEMF therapy does not require large machines or constant supervision. There are many subtle methods of using PEMF to combat and mitigate pain, thus helping the patient to return to normal social life sooner, sometimes even while still undergoing treatment.


Theoretical frameworks are important in researching the medical field. Levine’s Conservation framework offers a broad and unique perspective on the concept of using PEMF to fight pain in diabetic neuropathy patients. All four tenets of that theoretical framework find application in my current project, which means that it is a suitable theoretical framework to rely upon.

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Green, H. E. (2014). Use of theoretical and conceptual frameworks in qualitative research. Nurse Researcher, 21(6), 34-38.

Four conservation principles. (2016). Web.

Levine’s four conservation principles. (2012). Web.

Myra Estrin Levine – conservation model. (2016). Web.

Myra Levine’s conservation theory. (2009). Web.

Pulsed EMF (electromagnetic field) therapy for chronic pain. (2015). Web.

The four metaparadigms: Florence Nightingale. (2013). Web.

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"Levine’s Conservation Theory in Healthcare Research." StudyCorgi, 9 Dec. 2020,

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StudyCorgi. "Levine’s Conservation Theory in Healthcare Research." December 9, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Levine’s Conservation Theory in Healthcare Research." December 9, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Levine’s Conservation Theory in Healthcare Research'. 9 December.

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