How are Nursing Theories classified?

Nursing theories are primarily categorized based on Fawcett’s four concepts of nursing. These four concepts include person, environment, health, and nursing. The person is the most imperative concept in classifying nursing theories and represents the clients or recipients of the nursing care who are human beings. The environment is used to describe all the internal and external factors that affect the patients. Common physical influences may include family, friends, and the health care setting where one receives care. Health entails the patient’s status of well-being, while nursing encompasses all the qualities, traits, and actions of the nurse extending health care.

What are the differences between grand theory and middle-range Theory?

A major perspicuous difference between these two nursing theories is that the grand theory is considered too abstract to be applied directly into nursing practice. Middle range theory, in comparison, is less abstract and thus contributes significantly to the nursing practice.

Besides, the grand theories are complex, define a broader scope of nursing practice, and take a theoretical approach when addressing nursing issues, thus not testable. Also, grand theories can be used in quite a wide range of topics. On the other hand, middle-range theories represent a narrower nursing practice phenomenon that mostly involves tangible and less intricate concepts. They involve topics and issues that are less complex, particular to the nursing practice, and often incorporates empirical testing.

Moreover, grand theories deal with relatively broader nursing areas, such as practice research, administration, and health promotion of groups of people. On the contrary, middle-range theories are used to address specific areas in nursing and with the primary purpose of promoting and enhancing nursing care.

Examples of Grand Theory and Middle-range Theory?

One example of the most influential grand theories is the adaptation model. This model was developed by Sister Callista Roy and has made significant contributions to the nursing practice and particularly in the area revolving around curricula and nursing education. The model is based on the notion that adaptation begins when a person reacts positively towards a particular change within the environment. Roy’s adaptation model further holds that adaptation is among the main goals of nursing, and activities should focus on helping individuals adapt to changes in their health.

Patricia Benner’s nursing model is a perfect example of middle-range theories and has been incorporated into the nursing practice. She developed the theory from the concept “From Novice to Expert” she had coined. According to this concept, Benner proposed that nurses gradually build skills and understanding needed in patient care both from nursing education and individual experiences in the course of practice. She was of the idea that individuals can become effective nurses even without necessarily learning a theory.


Brandão, M. A. G., Martins, J. S. A., Peixoto, M. D. A. P., Lopes, R. O. P., & Primo, C. C. (2017). Theoretical and methodological reflections for the construction of middle-range nursing theoriesTexto Contexto Enferm26(4), e1420017.

Meyfroidt, P., Chowdhury, R. R., de Bremond, A., Ellis, E. C., Erb, K. H., Filatova, T., … & Verburg, P. H. (2018). Middle-range theories of land system change. Global environmental change53, 52-67.

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