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Nursing Theory  

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
Montante Family Library Subject Guide Print Page

How This Works

This subject guide has been developed with individual nursing theorists. All are different as access to each theorist is different.

Where available I have included:

  • individual websites
  • links to individual theory
  • links to online articles or books
  • listing of articles for further research
  • original work
  • link to what is available at D'Youville College
  • link to order an article or book through ILL

**The library now provides a document delivery service. Create a profile in ILLIAD and submit your request for any journal article you may be looking for and the library will send it in pdf form to your DYC email .

Fay Glenn Abdellah

National Women's Hall of Fame

Faye G Abdellah Patient-Centered Approaches to Nursing

Abdellah, F. G.  (1953).  Some trends in nursing education.  American Journal of Nursing, 53(7), 841-843.

Abdellah, F. G., & Levin, E.,(1957).  Developing a measure of patient and personnel satisfaction with nursing care.  Nursing Research, 5(2), 100-108.

Abdellah, F. G.,(1981). Nursing care of the aged in the United States of America.  Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 7(11), 657-663.

Abdellah, F. G. ,(1990). Reflections of a recurring theme.  Nursing Clinics of North America,25, 509-516.

Original Work: Patient-centered approaches to nursing (1960)

Faye Glenn Abdellah selections available at the Montante Family Library:

Preparing nursing research for the 21st century : evolution, methodologies, challenges

RT 81.5 A26 1994

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Patricia Benner

 Benner, P., (1985). Quality of life: a phenomenological perspective on explanation, prediction, and understanding in nursing science. Advances in Nursing Science, 8(1), 1-14.
Benner, P., (1987). How expert nurses use intuition. American Journal of Nursing, 87(1), 23-34.
Tanner, C.A., Benner, P., ( 1993). The phnomenology of knowing the patient.  Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 25(4), 273-280
Original Work:  From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing (1984)
ISBN 020100299X

Interpretive phenomenology : embodiment, caring, and ethics in health and illness

RT 84.5 .I58 1994

Clinical wisdom and interventions in critical care: a thinking-in-action approach

RT120.I5 B46 1999

From novice to expert: excellence and power in clinical nursing practice

RT 82 .B456 2001

Expertise in nursing practice: caring, clinical judgement & ethics

RT 73 .B365 2009

Educating nurses: a call for radical transformation

RT 73 .E38 2010

Clinical wisdom and interventions in acute and critical care : a thinking-in-action approach

RT120.I5 B46 2011

Lydia E Hall

The Aspects of Care, Core, Cure

The Three C's of Lydia Hall

Hall, L.,(1963). Center for nursing. Nursing Outlook, 11(11), 804-806.

Hall, L.,(1964). Nursing: what is it?. The Canadian Nurse, 60(1), 150-154.

Lydia Hall selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Virginia Henderson

Virginia Henderson The Priciples and Practice of Nursing

Virginia Henderson and Her Timeless Writings

The Concept of Nursing

Henderson,V., (1964). The Nature of Nursing. The American Journal of Nursing, 64(8), 62-68.

Henderson, V., (1978). The concept of nursing. Journal of Advnaced Nursing, 3(2), 113-130.

Henderson, V., (1982). The nursing process-is the title right? Journal of Advnaced Nursing

Original Work:  Nature 0f Nursing (1966) ISBN 0023535202

Virginia Henderson selections available at the Montante Family Library

The nature of nursing a definition and its implications for practice, research, and education

RT42 .H4 1966

The nature of nursing: a definition and its implications for practice, research, and education: reflections after 25 years

RT84.5 .H46 1991

A Virginia Henderson reader: excellence in nursing

RT63 .H46 1995

Basic principles of nursing care

RT41 .H23 1997


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Dorothy Johnson

The Behavioral System Model

The Behavior System Model for Nursing

Johnson, D.,(1943). Learning to know people. American Journal of Nursing, 43(3), 248-252.

Johnson, D., (1959). A philosophy of nursing. Nursing Outlook, 7(4), 198-200.

Johnson, D., (1959). The nature of a science of nursing. Nursing Outlook, 7(5), 291-294.

Johnson, D., (1961). The significance of nursing care. American Journal of Nursing, 61(11), 63-66.

Johnson, D., (1968). Theory in nursing: Borrowed and unique. Nursing Research, 17(3), 206-209.

Johnson, D., (1974). Development of a theory: A requisite for nursing as a primary health profession. Nursing Research, 23(5), 372-377.

Original Work: History and trends of practical nursing (1966)  ISBN  0853135339

Dorothy Johnson selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Imogene M King


King's Conceptual System and Theory of Goal Attainment and Trancultural Process

King, I. (1968). A conceptual frame of reference for nursing. Nursing Research, 17(1), 27-30.

Daubenmire, M.J., King, I. (1973). Nursing process models: a systems approach. Nursing Outlook, 21(8), 512-517.

King, I., (1990). Health as the goal for nursing. Nursing Science Quarterly, 3(3), 123-128.

King, I., (1992). King's theory of goal attainment. Nursing Science Quarterly, 5(1), 19-26.

King, I., (2006). A systems approach in nursing administration structure, process, and outcome. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 30(2), 100-104.

Original Work: Toward a theory for nursing : general concepts of human behavior (1971)

Imogene King slections available at the Montante Family Library

Toward a theory for nursing: general concepts of human behavior

RT63 .K55 1971

A theory for nursing: systems, concepts, process

RT 84.5 K55 1981

Advancing King’s systems framework and theory of nursing

RT84.5 .A385 1995

The language of nursing theory and metatheory

RT84.5 .L36 1997

Middle range theory development using King’s conceptual system

RT84.5 .M5365 2007



Katharine Kolcaba

Comfort Line Comfort Theory

An Analysis of the Concept of Comfort

Comfort Theory A Unifying Framework to Enhance the Practice Environment

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

Kolcaba, K., (1995). The Art of Comfort Care. The Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 27(4), 287-289.


Madeleine M Leininger

Culture Care Diversity and Universality

Leininger, M., (1985). Transcultural care diversity and universality : a theory of nursing. Nursing & Health Care,  6(4), 209-212.

Leininger, M., (1999). What Is transcultural nursing and culturally competent care? Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 10(1), 9.

Leininger, M, .(2001). Current Issues in Using Anthropology in Nursing Education and Services.  Western Journal of Nursing Research 23(8), 795-807.

Leininger, M., (2002). Culture care theory: a major contribution to advance transcultural nursing knowledge and practices. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3), 189-192.

Original Work: Basic psychiatric concepts in nursing by Hofling & Leininger ( 1960)

 Madeleine Leininger selections avialable at the Montante Family Library

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Special Notes

Any article cited on this guide can be obtained by placing an Interlibrary loan request.

Many of the original works cited can be found in the DYC library collection or can be obtained by placing an Interlibrary Loan request.

Myra Estrin Levine

The Conservation Model

On the Humanities of Nursing

Levine, M., (1966). Adaptation and assessment: a rationale for nursing intervention. American Journal of Nursing, 66(11), 2450-2453.

Levine, M., (1967). The four conservation principles of nursing. Nursing Forum, 6(1), 45-59.

Levine, M., (1996). The conservation principles: a retrospective. Nursing Science Quarterly, 9(1), 38-41.

Original Work: Introduction to clinical nursing (1973)

Myra Estrin Levine selections available at the Montante Family Library

Introduction to clinical nursing RT41. L64 1973

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Betty Neuman

Neuman Systems Model

The Neuman Systems Theory

Neuman, B., Young, R.J. (1972). Model for teaching total person approach to patient problems. Nursing Research,  21(3),  264-269.

Neuman, B., (1996). The neuman systems model in research and practice.  Nursing Science Quarterly,  9(2),  67-70.

Original Work: Neuman Systems Model (1989)

Betty Neuman selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Margaret Newman


Health as Expanding

Health as Expanding Consciousness

Newman, M. (1990). Newman's theory of health as praxis. Nursing Science Quarterly, 3(1), 37-41.

Newman, M. (1997). Evolution of the theory of health as expanding consciousness. Nursing Science Quarterly, 10(1), 22-25.

Margaret Newman selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Dorothea Orem


Dorothea Orem's Self-Care Theory

Dorothea Orem The Self Care Deficit Nursing Theory

Orem, D., (1988).  The form of nursing science. Nursing Science Quarterly, 1(2), 75-79.

Orem, D., (1995). Nursing theory and positive mental health: practical considerations. Nursing Science Quarterly, 8(4), 165-173.

Original Work: Nursing: Concepts of Practice (1971)

Dorothea Orem selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Ida Jean Orlando

The Dynamic Nurse-Patient Relationship

Orlando, I. J.,(1987). Nursing in the 21st century: Alternate paths. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 12(4), 405-412.

Orlando, I. J., & Dugan, A.,(1989). Independent and dependent paths: The fundamental issue for the nursing profession.  Nursing & Health Care, 2(2), 77-80.

Original Work: The discipline and teaching of nursing process: an evaluative study (1972)

Ida Jean Orlando selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Rosemarie Rizzo Parse

International Consortium of Parse Scholars

Human Becoming Theory

Parse, RR., (1992). Human becoming: parse's theory of nursing. Nursing Science Quarterly, 5(1), 35-42.

Parse, RR.,(2007), The human becoming school of thought in 2050. Nursing Science Quarterly, 20(4), 308-311.

Original Work: Nursing Fundamentals (1974) ISBN 0874883784

Rosemarie Rizzo Parse Selections Available at the Montante Family Library

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Nola Pender

Health Promotion Model

Under Construction

Hildegard Peplau


Hildegard Peplau Homepage

Hildegard E Peplau Theory of Interpersonal Relations

Peplau, H., (1988). The art and science of nursing: similarities, differences and relations. Nursing Science Quarterly, 1(1), 8-15.

Peplau, H., (1997). Peplau's theory of inerpersonal relations. Nursing Science Quarterly, 10(4), 162-167.

Original Work: Interpersonal relations in nursing, a conceptual frame of reference for psychodynamic nursing (1952)

Hildegard Peplau selections available at The Montante Family Library

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Martha Rogers

The Science of Unitary and Irreducible Human Beings

Rogers, M., (1971). An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing.  American Journal of Nursing, 71(10), 2026-2027.

Rogers, M., (1988). Nursing science and art: a prospective. Nursing Science Quarterly,1(3), 99-101.

Rogers, M., (1992). Nursing science and the space age. Nursing Science Quarterly, 5(1), 27-34.

Martha Rogers selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Sister Callista Roy

The Roy Adaptation Theory

Roy Adaptation Model

Roy, C., (1970). Adaptation: a conceptual framework for nursing. Nursing Outlook, 18(3), 42-45.

Roy, C., (1988). An Explication of the Philosophical Assumptions of the Roy Adaptation Model. Nursing Science Quarterly, 1(1), 26-34.

Sister Callista Roy selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Joyce Travelbee

The Human to Human Relationship Model of Nursing has seven basic concepts.

  • Suffering, which is "an experience that varies in intensity, duration and depth...a feeling of unease, ranging from mild, transient mental, physical or mental discomfort to extreme pain...."
  • Meaning, which is the reason attributed to a person
  • Nursing, which helps a person find meaning in the experience of illness and suffering; has a responsibility to help people and their families find meaning; and the nurse's spiritual and ethical choices, and perceptions of illness and suffering, which are crucial to help patients find meaning.
  • Hope, which is a faith that can and will be a change that would bring something better with it. Six important characteristics of hope are: dependence on other people, future orientation, escape routes, the desire to complete a task or have an experience, confidence that others will be there when needed, and the acknowledgment of fears and moving forward towards its goal.
  • Communication, which is "a strict necessity for good nursing care."
  • Self-therapy, which is the ability to use one's own personality consciously and in full awareness in an attempt to establish relatedness and to structure nursing interventions. This refers to the nurse's presence physically and psychologically.
  • Targeted intellectual approach by the nurse toward the patient's situation.

* Theory information obtained from

Travelbee, J.,(1963). What do we mean by rapport?  The American Journal of Nursing, 63(2), 70-72.

Travelbee, J.,(1964). What's wrong with sympathy? The American Journal of nursing, 64(1), 68-71.

Original Work: Interpersonal Aspects of Nursing (1966)

Joyce Travelbee selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Jean Watson

Watson Caring Science Institute & International Cartas Consortium

Jean Watson Caring Science as Sacred Science

Watson, J., (1968). Death – a necessary concern for nurses. Nursing Outlook,16(2), 47-48.

Watson, J., (1981). Conceptual systems of students and practicing nurses. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 3(2), 172-192.

Watson, J., (1981). The lost art of nursing. Nursing Forum, XX(3), 244-249.

Watson, J., (1988). New dimensions of human caring theory. Nursing Science Quarterly, 1(4), 175-181.

Watson, J., (1989). Caring theory. Journal of Japan Academy of Nursing Science, 9(2), 29-37.

Watson, J., (2010). Florence Nightingale and the Enduring Legacy of Transpersonal Human Caring-Healing. Journal of Holistic Nursing.28(1),107-108.

Original Work: Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring (1979)

Jean Watson selections available at the Montante Family Library

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Ernestine Wiedenbach

The Helping Art of Clinical Nursing

Perscriptive Theory

Ernestine Wiedenbach developed the conceptual model of nursing called the Helping Art of Clinical Nursing.

In her model of nursing, she explains that nursing is the practice of identification of a patient's need for help through the observation of presenting behaviors and symptoms, exploration of the meaning of those symptoms with the patient, determining the cause of discomfort, and determining the patient's ability to resolve the discomfort or if the patient has a need for help from the nurse or other health care professionals. The goal of nursing consists primarily of identifying a patient's need for help.  The need for help is defined as "any measure desired by the patient that has the potential to restore or extend the ability to cope with various life situations that affect health and wellness." Need-for-help must be based on the individual patient's perception of his or her own situation.

Wiedenbach's theory identifies the patient as "any individual who is receiving help of some kind, be it care, instruction or advice from a member of the health profession or from a worker in the field of health." A patient is any person who has entered the healthcare system and is receiving help, which means he or she does not need to be ill. A person receiving health-related education would qualify as a patient.

The theory identifies four main elements in clinical nursing: a philosophy, a purpose, a practice, and the art.

The nurse's philosophy is his or her attitude and belief about life, and how that affects reality for him or her. The three essential components Wiedenbach associated with a nursing philosophy are reverence for life; respect for the dignity, worth, autonomy, and individuality of each human being; and the resolution to act on personally and professionally held beliefs.

The nurse's purpose is that which the nurse wants to accomplish through her actions. It encompasses all of the activities directed toward the overall good of the patient.

The practice of nursing consists of the observable nursing actions affected by beliefs and feelings about meeting the patient's need for help.

The art of nursing includes understanding the patient's needs, developing goals and actions intended to enhance the patient's ability, and directing the activities related to the medical plan to improve the patient's condition. The nurse's focus is also on the prevention of complications related to reoccurrence or the development of new concerns.

Nursing skills are carried out to achieve a specific patient-centered purpose rather than the completion of the skill itself being the end goal. Skills are made up of a variety of actions, and characterized by harmony of movement, precision, and effective use of self.

The theory explains that knowledge encompasses all that has been perceived and grasped by the human mind. It may be factual, speculative, or practical.

A nurse uses two types of judgment in dealing with patients: clinical and sound. Clinical judgment represents the nurse's likeliness to make sound decisions, which are based on differentiating fact from assumption and relating them to cause and effect. Sound judgment is the result of disciplined functioning of mind and emotions, and improves with expanded knowledge and increased clarity of professional purpose.

Wiedenbach's prescriptive theory is based on three factors:

  • The central purpose which the practitioner recognizes as essential to the particular discipline.
  • The prescription for the fulfillment of the central purpose.
  • The realities in the immediate situation that influence the central purpose

* Theory information obtained from

Wiedenbach, E., (1963). The helping art of nursing. The American Journal of Nursing, 63(11), 54-57.

Wiedenbach, E., (1968). The nurse's role in family planning. A conceptual basis for practice. Nursing Clinics of North America, 3(2), 355-365.

Wiedenbach, E., (1968). Genetics end the nurse.  Bulletin of the American College of Nurse-Midwifery, 13(2), 8-13.

Original Work: Clinical nursing, a helping art (1964)

Ernestine Wiedenbach selections available at the Montante Family Library

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