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Nursing Research, Theories and the Family.


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            “Nursing is an art; and if it is to be made an art, it requires as exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter or sculptor’s work” .This quote is attributed to Florence Nightingale. (Very few of us are aware what Madam Nightingale contributed to the science and art of Nursing, except to indulge in it herself unselfishingly). Madam Nightingale gave the world the very first professional composition on the subject named “Notes on Nursing; What to do and what not to do?” She authored the very first theory called the Environmental Theory.

            What are these theories of nursing methods? These theories are coherent series of logical cause and effect sequences, which ultimately lead to a desired result. The theory therefore seeks to put forward the final effect, thereby explaining it. The individual thoughts forming a kind of frame, combining them together in the shape desired.

            In Nursing homes /hospitals, families can comprise of two persons minimum. A group of people who share mutual likes and dislikes, all of whom share empathy with each other, and who are more than two can be called a family, with a hospital society. Another definition is “A family is a group of two or more individuals the members of which are emotionally, physically and economically dependent upon each other. The members of the family are self-defined” (Hanson, 2005). The members of the family take responsibility for the health of the others in the family, the other members all help to the extent possible. Theories such as  Nightingale’s Environmental Theory which is family-based (as being part of the environment) into consideration. Some other theories are Martha Roget’s “Unitary Human Beings Theory”, Orem’s theory “Share Care theory” etc. for families.


The scope of family treatment which cover family treatment have been extended by White & Leahy(1998) to encompass the following too.

1.      Illnesses like cancer, which have a detrimental effect on others.

2.      Situations in which family members contribute to an individual’s problems, e.g. anorexia nervosa,

3.      Circumstances in which illness in one family member affects onset or enhancement in another.(tension symptoms in parents if child afflicted with possible fatal ailments)

4.      Transitions related to illness or change in caregiving locus. (Move from hospital to house)

5.      A family member dying can affect morale and bring about depression. (Whyte, 2012)


            Nursing researchers generally break up the many different types of theories into two types.

These are: (1) the Physical type of theories that involve suffering, illness, healing and cure.

2) The Critical or Philosophical type: Here, the properties of the patient’s trauma are connected philosophically with other inputs .

            Dorothea Orem’ Self-care system is found out by most people as the most convenient to use for family treatment and health. This is because the division into three types is practical. Minor meaning patient can attend to his own duties himself, medium and major, the last being the other extreme.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  &n