Skip to Main Content

Nursing Resources : Nursing Models

What is a"Nursing Model?"

Some of the simplest definitions of a model describe it as, "a representation of reality" (McFarlane, 1986a), or a simplified way of organisnig a complex phenomenon (Stockwell, 1985).  Other authors have elaborated on both these descriptions.  Fawcett (1992) states that a model is a s set of concepts and the assumptions that integrate them into a meaningful configuration.  Rambo (1894) believes that a model is a way of representing a situation in logical terms in order to show the structure of the orginal idea or subject.  (McKenna, 1997, p. 12).

Models, therefore are conceptual tools or devices that can be used by an indivisual to understand and place complex phenomena into perspective. It gives the viewer an indication of what the real thing is like. (McKenna, 1997, p. 12).

McKenna, H.P.  (1997). Nurisng theories and models. New York, NY: Rutledge.

Components of nursing models

Components of nursing models

At a basic level, there are three key components to a nursing model:

  • A set of beliefs and values;
  • A statement of the goal the nurse is trying to achieve;
  • The knowledge and skills the nurse needs to practise (Pearson et al, 1996).

An important first step in the development of ideas about nursing was to try and identify the core concepts central to nursing, then to identify the beliefs and values around those. After extensive debate, there was some favour shown to the idea that nursing consists of four key concepts: person; health; environment; and nursing (see Box 1).

Box 1. Central concepts of all nursing models (Fawcett, 1995)

  • Person – the recipient of nursing actions
  • Environment – the recipient’s specific surroundings
  • Health – the wellness or illness state of the recipient
  • Nursing – actions taken by nurses on behalf of or in conjunction with a recipient

Nursing models may have these four concepts as their cornerstones but each describes them a little differently. For example, the sets of beliefs and values might be different and hence the goal of nursing and the knowledge and skills required might vary.

Murphy, F., Williams, A., & Pridmore, J. A. (2010). Nursing models and contemporary nursing 1: their development, uses and limitations. Nursing times106(23), 1820.

Finding Models in "CINAHL Headings"

Finding nursing models within the UW Library Catalog: Models, Nursing

Finding nursing models within CINAHL: Searchthe phrase "nursing model" within "CINAHL Headings".

CINAHL will give you different models to choose from: "Nursing Model, Theoretical", "Models, Biological", or Models, Psychological". When you click on the CINAHL heading "Nursing Model, Theoretical" you will see a variety of potential theories to search. Clicking on any one of the sub-theories will reveal a list of individual theories, such as the ones listed below.  More often than not, you will need "Nursing Model, Theoretical"; however, you can select all three, making sure the "OR" option is selected in the search box on the right, and then click the "Search Database" button to broaden your search.

Benner's Professional Advancement Model

Corbin and Strauss Chronic Illness Trajectory Framework

Cox Interaction Model of Client Health Behavior

Fitzpatrick Life Perspective

Gordon's Functional Health Patterns

Henderson Nursing Model

Johnson Behavioral System Model

King Open Systems Model

Leininger's Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality

Leventhal and Johnson's Theory of Self-Regulation

Levine Conservation Model

Marker Nursing Model

Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Theory

Neuman Systems Model

Newman Health Model

Nightingale's Nursing Theory

Orem Self-Care Model

Orlando's Theory of the Deliberative Nursing Process

Parse's Theory of Human Becoming

Paterson and Zderad's Theory of Humanistic Nursing

Pender Health Promotion Model

Peplau Interpersonal Relations Model

Rogers Science of Unitary Human Beings

Roper's Activities of Living Model

Roy Adaptation Model

Rubin's Theory of Maternal Identity

Synergy Model

Watson's Theory of Caring

Wiedenbach's Theory