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NUR 515 - Advanced Nursing Concepts

This guide is to assist NUR 515 students with nursing research and support for their final project.

Locating & Using Theories 


Once you have identified the nursing problem and identified the concept related to the phenomenon of concern, you must now identify a specific theory that best applies. You must also analyze the literature to identify theories being used by nurses and nursing departments in the specific area of the problem. Let's use an example of where the theory chosen is Peplau's theory of interpersonal relations. Here are some ideas of how you could approach researching information on the theory itself and how it has been used.

  • Can we find the original work that the theory was first published? A quick search for the author and the name of the theory inside of the Multi-Search database points to an article written by Peplau. Looking at several other articles, the authors are using the same citation in their reference lists...this work must be one of the seminal works by Peplau. Here is the citation (link takes you to the record for the article inside of the Multi-Search): Peplau, H. (1992). Interpersonal relations: a theoretical framework for application in nursing practice. Nursing Science Quarterly, 5(1), 13-18. 

  • What other research articles and studies have used this theory? An easy way to see a list of results that also use this theory, is to use the Major Subjects area of the above linked Peplau record in the Multi-Search. When viewing the record, look to the information under the title. One of the areas lists the subjects that have been assigned to the article, one is Peplau Interpersonal Relations Model. If you click that linked Major Subject, the Multi-Search will run a new search specifically just for sources that have used that same Major Subject in their record. Doing this, there are 50 sources to look through that identify using this model.
    • Another way to see what other research studies have used this model is to go right into a nursing database and search. Go to the CINAHL Complete database and search for the model/author. A search like this could be useful: Peplau AND "interpersonal relation*" using the asterisk tells the database to search for any form of the word relation, relations, relationship, relationships. The quotation marks tell the database to keep interpersonal relation together when it searches. There were 285 sources found from this search in CINAHL. Finally, use the left side limiters to narrow down to academic journals to try and capture just the research studies. 

  • How is this theory being used in the nursing literature/field? Scan through your search results to get an idea of how the theory is used and if its applicable to your assignment. From the search that yielded 285 results, there are several themes that emerge from scanning the titles, use of the theory in the following areas: HIV/AIDS, mental health, sexual violence, violence against women for example. Don't be afraid to retry your searches, trial and error with search combinations is a natural progression in the research process.