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The Theory of Comfort in Nursing


Throughout times, various nursing theories have emerged within the healthcare industry, and each of them defined nursing and its major elements in its way. Smith and Parker (2015) define nursing theories as “patterns that guide the thinking about nursing” (p. 2).

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Different healthcare professionals imply the concepts into their practice intending to improve their performance, the outcomes of the services, and the experience of the patients. The theory of comfort is one of the approaches that I have developed based on previous researches and prior nursing theories that focus on care and an individual’s health. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the emergence of this theory, observe the development of related terminology, look at the implications for the current nursing practices, and evaluate it.

Main body

It is crucial to emphasize the importance of the relationships among the needs of the patients, comfort, and nursing interventions. After analyzing the connection between those areas, I have concluded that the most significant issue is the “whole person outcomes” (Kolcaba, 1994, p. 1178). Comfort, in turn, serves as the holistic outcome for the whole person, which implies that applying comfort principles can bring favorable results to the nursing practices (Kolcaba, 1994). The analysis of the theories by Orlando, Henderson, and Paterson, and Zderad moved me to distinguish three types of comfort, which are relief, ease, and transcendence (Smith & Parker, 2015).

The next point of theorizing was to determine the contexts in which the primary element of my method could be applied. Consequently, different types of comfort can be experienced within physical, psychospiritual, sociocultural, and environmental contexts (Smith & Parker, 2015). After a more precise investigation of those aspects, I came up with the comfort theory, where comfort becomes an outcome of intentional nursing care.

The term comfort itself, despite common beliefs, has a complicated and unique nature. As far as comfort lies in the core of my theory, I had to analyze the existing definitions and see if I need to come up with a distinct explanation. In one of my first articles about the comfort theory, I have investigated six different meanings of this concept (Kolcaba & Kolcaba, 1991). Among them, there were such descriptions as “the relief from discomfort,” “the state of peaceful contentment,” and “whatever makes life easy and pleasurable” (Kolcaba & Kolcaba, 1991, p. 1302).

The final definition of comfort for my nursing theory is “the satisfaction of the basic human needs for relief, ease or transcendence arising from health care situations that are stressful” (Kolcaba, 1994, p. 1178). Therefore, the use of comfort within my theory is based on previous research and literature reviews from prior approaches and concepts.

It has been more than 20 years since the emergence of the theory of comfort, and nursing professionals keep applying the elements of this theory to practice. The nurses can measure a patient’s comfort through questionnaires and verbal rating scales, which makes the theory’s use convenient and practical (Boudiab & Kolcaba, 2015). Besides, healthcare organizations gradually integrate comfort theory into the electronic records of the patients because it gives a possibility to see the bigger picture and better understand the individual’s needs (Boudiab & Kolcaba, 2015).

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The theory of comfort is rapidly integrating modern nursing practices. Comfort, with careful implementation of its concept and an emphasis on holistic care, can not only improve the patients’ experience but “enhance the team’s satisfaction and morale” (Boudiab & Kolcaba, 2015, p. 278). Therefore, one can argue that the comfort concept offers a proper approach and adds value to the caring activities.


In conclusion, after a thorough analysis and various concepts and terms offered by different nursing theories, I have concluded that comfort plays an integral role in the care system. The theory of comfort provides a holistic approach to healthcare practices, enhancing the experiences, broadening the spectrum of patients, and improving the general image of a healthcare facility. Further implementation within different organizations and evaluation of the theory’s concepts and outcomes have a possibility of modifying the bases of comfort concept and its future applications.


Boudiab, L. D., & Kolcaba, K. (2015). Comfort theory: Unraveling the complexities of veterans’ health care needs. Advances in Nursing Science, 38(4), 270-278.

Kolcaba, K. Y. (1994). A theory of holistic comfort for nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 19(6), 1178-1184.

Kolcaba, K. Y., & Kolcaba, R. J. (1991). An analysis of the concept of comfort. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 16(11), 1301-1310.

Smith, M. C., & Parker, M. E. (2015). Nursing theories and nursing practice (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: FA Davis Company.

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