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Nursing Theory Development and Its Fundamentals

The formation of the major body of nursing theory occurred in the 1980s; the changes that happened in the theoretical field at that time are known as the transition to the paradigm approach from pre-paradigm perspectives. In particular, the theories by Nightingale and Fawcett served as some of the most important bases for the future development of nursing theories. The two historical theorists and practitioners envisioned nursing as a professional field that required a distinct curriculum meeting the present needs of the patients and provide learners with deep knowledge of diverse practices and approaches in nursing based on its core concepts.

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The operationalization, optimization, and conceptualization of the nursing knowledge (theoretical and practical) served as the historical basis for theory development in nursing. A substantial body of practical and theoretical knowledge needed to be systematized for future improvement and research. In that way, systematization of knowledge led to the formation of nursing concepts and resulted in the development of the consequent perspectives, points of view, and paradigms that, in turn, could drive the standards for nursing practice, approaches in research, and the development of theory.

The metaparadigms of health, environment, person, and nursing were the keys to the further classification of the nursing theories and models as paradigms within. As specified by Bousso, Poles, and da Cruz (2013), nursing theoretical framework in nursing formed through the dynamics of practice that resulted in experiences and knowledge that could be tested and confirmed through practice. However, Im and Chang (2012) noted that today, practice and research require a stronger connection with nursing theories to foster their development and strengthen their diversity.


Bousso, R. S., Poles, K. P., & da Cruz, D. (2013). Nursing concepts and theories. Revista Da Escola De Enfermagem Da USP, 48(1), 141-145.

Im, E., & Chang, S. (2012). Current trends in nursing theories. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 44(2), 156–164.

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