Practicing nurses and nurse theorists are consistently developing conceptual models of nursing and nursing theory. In recent years, clarification of the relationship between conceptual models of nursing and theories of nursing has made it possible to use nursing processes as research techniques that combine both inductive and hypothetico-deductive commitments. Therefore it opens the perspectives that systemic use of the nursing process may identify a set of research methods that may facilitate development of nursing theory involving use of insights from both the direct experience of practicing nurses and conceptual models of nursing. Like any knowledge, nursing knowledge is also a blend of knowledge from nursing and other disciplines. Nursing knowledge needs to be unique to be regarded as professional body of knowledge. The nursing research needs to develop and confirm nursing knowledge, and to be able to do this, nursing research needs to be linked to nursing theories. Thus nursing theory can form a conceptual framework for research studies, can be tested by research, and can be built by development of theory from research into practice. In this way, nursing research is closely related to nursing theory and hence to nursing practices (LoBiondo-Wood & Harber, 2006).
Types of nursing theories generally include grand theory, middle-range theory, and practice theory. Grand theories have the broadest scope and present general concepts and propositions. Theories at this level may both reflect and provide insights useful for practice but are not designed for empirical testing. Therefore their scopes are limited in terms of directing, explaining, and predicting nursing in specific situations, and they are wide in the sense that they can be pertinent to all instances of nursing. Development of grand theories resulted from the deliberate effort of committed scholars who have engaged in thoughtful reflection on nursing practice and knowledge and the many contexts of nursing over time. Middle-range theory was proposed in the field of sociology to provide theories that are both broad enough to be useful in complex situations and appropriate for empirical testing. Nursing scholars proposed using this level of theory because of the difficulty in testing grand theory. Middle-range theories are narrower in scope than grand theories and offer an effective bridge between grand theories and nursing practice. They present concepts and propositions at a lower level of abstraction and hold great promise for increasing theory-based research and nursing practice strategies (Tomey & Alligood, 2006).
Dr. Parse is a graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and received her master's and doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. She was on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, was dean of the Nursing School at Duquesne University, and from 1983 to 1993 was professor and coordinator of the Center for Nursing Research at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She is founder and editor of Nursing Science Quarterly; president of Discovery International, Inc., which sponsors international nursing theory conferences; and founder of the Institute of Human Becoming. Her