Kolcaba's Theory of Comfort



Kolcaba's Theory of Comfort

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The social order in the current world constantly changes as people try to make their life as comfortable as possible. This has led to the people adopting new ways of life, which makes them face new challenges brought about by the new lifestyles. In response to the new demands, the field of medicine has also retaliated by coming up with new ways of conduct. The most conspicuous way in the formulation of nursing theories is aimed at finding new approaches to handling different medical situations.

The expectation is for the players in the health sector to familiarize themselves with the insights provided by these theories. Nurses are no exceptions to these demands, and for them to handle different situation comprehensively, there is the need to ensure that one master the reference points provided by these theories. This paper aims to provide an in-depth analysis of Katharine Kolcaba Nursing theory, offer helpful insights into nursing, and explain how they have been domesticated by hospitals.

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Kolcaba’s Theory Description

Kolcaba’s theory is also known as comfort theory formulated by a theorist called Katharine Kolcaba and it falls in the group of middle-range theories. The comfort theory agitates for nurses to provide comfort to their patients since they have been assigned the role of caregivers (George, 2011). The theory came about as the result of Kolcaba’s long experience in the field of nursing and keen analysis of research on insights provided for by other nursing theories and other pioneers of health improvements like Florence Nightingale, who agitated for cleaner hospitals.

According to Kolcaba, a highly experienced nurse and Ph.D. in Nursing from Frances Paine Bolton School of Nursing of the class of 1997, nurses are expected to provide three forms of comfort to their patients - relief, ease, and transcendence (George, 2011). Relief is availed to the patient through the provision of physical comfort and satisfaction of the needs and expectations of the patients such as the administering of painkillers. Ease, on the other hand, is attained by ensuring that the patient is settled and has no anxiety. Transcendence comes about when the patient has achieved the above two states of comfort and is comfortable enough to recover from the illness.

The theory goes ahead and asserts that the different forms of comfort are met as the result of social-cultural, physical, environmental, and psycho-spiritual experiences. Therefore, the theory concludes that nursing undertakings are either objective or subjective. When the assessment is termed as subjective, the goal is to solve psychological, social, and emotional issues. On the other hand, when the undertakings are termed as objective, the issue is physical healing.

How Nursing Theories as a Basis for the Nursing Process Helps Promote Health and Healing?

Nursing theories are aimed at ensuring that there is consistency in the manner, in which nurses and other health workers handle illnesses (George, 2011). This is possible by the fact that nursing theories provide a reference point, under which helpful insights are provided to ensure that the optimum decision is always the final decision before any action is taken in the field of medicine. To meet the set expectations of improved informed decision-making in the field of medicine, nursing theories are formulated under a research-intensive platform, a phenomenon that profoundly promotes evidence-based practice (EBP) in nursing. In the case of Katharine Kolcaba’s theory of comfort, the call is for nurses to ensure that they ensure the comfort of their patients (George, 2011).

The theory argues that when patients are comfortable, they can adopt health-seeking behaviors. The utilization of nursing theories promotes holistic nursing, where nurses aim at healing the person as a whole. In the same spirit, the comfort theory argues that nurses’ undertakings either deal with physical healing or emotional, spiritual healing. Thus, it is clear that the utilization of nursing theories helps in making nursing a more holistic and comprehensive discipline where patients are supported by all fronts.

When it comes to healing, quality should be paramount, and thus, the application of holistic care should be prioritized to ensure that patients receive the best health care possible. In the context of comfort theory, the nurses’ aim should be to ensure that all elements of patients’ needs leading to the attainment of comfort are availed.

Moreover, holistic nurses are extremely crucial in the promotion of health and healing because they are keen on adopting a better approach when it comes to health care services. They can utilize an approach that upholds health as the primacy of a relationship, not forgetting the quality of life rather than utilizing the old approach of illness-oriented approach (Masters, 2012). Thus, it is valid to argue that the utilization of nursing theory in practice helps nurses to become holistic nurses, making them better caregivers and promoting health and healing in such a way.

How Nursing Theory is Used to Challenge Professional and Organizational Assumptions?

Professional and organizational assumptions are the commonly held truth in behavior within the profession or the organization. In other words, professional and organizational assumptions amount to the culture upheld within these two fronts. Therefore, the task is aimed at demonstrating how nursing theories help nurses to maintain the independence of mind while making medical decisions before any action. Nursing theories provide a reference point a nurse can draw a decision that is not biased by the “status quo” within a given hospital (Masters, 2012).

Consequently, it is interesting to know how nursing theories help make nurses more proactive in terms of making informed decisions rather than ‘norm’ decisions. First, nursing theories, as mentioned earlier, provide a platform where evidence-based information can be referenced to understand better the prevailing medical situation.

A good example is Kolcaba’s comfort theory where there is a call to ensure that a nurse gives the patient the required level of comfort. This demands the nurse to be aware of the comfort being sought by the patients so that she could provide the relevant help. The take from this assertion demands a nurse to probe to understand the specific help the patient needs. When doing this, the nurse eliminates the influence of making a generalized decision of what “comfort” is to patients and concentrates on identifying it from the demands of the patients and making the decision out of the information gained.

Another key input of nursing theories in countering professional and organizational assumptions is by empowering the nurses. This is done by availing additional information on different aspects of diseases and their treatment. In other words, nursing theories help nurses improve their understanding of health care matters and what is expected of them (Masters, 2012). This, in turn, enables them not to rely heavily on the commonly held notions on health care but fully depend on their improved self-understanding. Therefore, it is clear that nursing theories work towards the promotion of nurses and health workers who are more independent of the status “quo” in their respective professions and organization to be more dependent on their improved understanding when it comes to service delivery.

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Institutionalization of the Nursing Theories concerning Nicklaus Hospital Miami

Many hospitals adopt theory-based action in ensuring that the best health care services are available to the patients. Nicklaus Children's Hospital presents one example of how hospitals have domesticated various theories into their culture as a well-informed strategy towards ensuring holistic action with the hospital. The Nicklaus Children's Hospital delivers health care services to children via a family-centered approach (“Patient Care Delivery”, 2015). It is the belief of the nursing front within the hospital that every child is different and unique as an important part of a family unit.

The prominent theory used at the hospital is Katharine Kolcaba’s Comfort Model. This is evident in that all nursing undertakings within the hospital are aimed at ensuring the needs of the child and the parents are adhered to while caring for the children (“Patient Care Delivery”, 2015). According to the demands of Comfort Theory, nurses should ensure that the patients feel comfortable so that they could be in a position towards improving their health (Masters, 2012).

In Nicklaus Hospital, this model is utilized in the form of a free massage session, physicals, and psycho-spiritual to name but a few. In the same spirit, it is the belief in the hospital that for nurses to provide comfort to the children, they also need to be comfortable (“Patient Care Delivery”, 2015). To attain nurses’ comfort, the hospital has the Employee Assistance Program, Adequate staff, and resources to perform job duties as well as Nursing support groups for new nurses.

The Changing Role of the Nurse Today and How They are Influenced by Nursing Theory?

In today’s world, simply administering drugs to patients is not enough in nursing; nurses have to master additional arts such as technological advancement and social dynamics, which puts pressure on the nursing process. Nowadays, nurses play different roles that include but are not limited to advocacy, caregiver, teacher, manager, and researcher (“The Changing Role of Nurses”, 2012).

Nurse as a Care Giver

Kolcaba’s Comfort theory demands that a nurse be a source of comfort to their patients. In the Nicklaus Children's Hospital, the expectations are not different from the nurses being guided by the conceptual Framework of Katharine Kolcaba’s Comfort Model. Here, the expectation of the hospital to the nurses is to ensure that patients are comfortable enough through the utilization of the various facilities and services available at the hospital.

Nurse as an Advocate

A nurse advocate acts as a bridge between the doctors and patients as well as other interested parties. The role of a nurse advocate is to ensure that the interests of all relevant parties within the healing processes are considered and adhered to before the final treatment decision is taken. In the context of Nicklaus Children's Hospital, the goal is to provide family-centered treatment a phenomenon highly agitated by Comfort theory (Masters, 2012). Thus, nurses integrate the views of the concerned family while caring for sick children. The main aim of the hospital utilizing this approach is to ensure that patient care conforms to the patient’s and family’s beliefs, culture, and dignity.

Nurse as a Teacher

Under this role, a nurse can be a teacher to the patients and their families or the other nurses as well. In the context of a nurse being a teacher to the patients, the goal here is to educate the patients and their families on the situation and the best form of treatment. In Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, nurses are keen on bringing on board the family members in the treatment process in staying true to the goal of providing family-centered medical help. To the nursing professionals, the hospital has Nicklaus Children's Hospital Medical Professional Resources that avail relevant information to all medical workers (“For Medical Professionals”, 2015).

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Nurse as a Researcher

Here, the role of the nurse is to ensure that there is enough evidence-based information on how to handle the different situations within the health sector (“The Changing Role of Nurses”, 2012). In the same spirit, Nicklaus Hospital is proud to have one of the best research centers in pediatric research. The research center is fully accredited by the Association of Human Research Protection Programs (AHRPP) (“Highlights”, 2015).

Nurse as a Manager

The role of the nurse as a manager is that of ensuring that set regulations are followed. Therefore, efficiency prevails in all undertakings in the process of availing of health care services. Under the Comfort theory, ethics can be making sure that patients are always comfortable, a phenomenon that can only be met if certain set ethics are followed. In Nicklaus Hospital, the management has arranged operations in such a way that all of them are guided by set ethics. In addition, the hospital has established the Ethics Compliance Department headed by Jose E. Perdomo (“Ethics & Compliance”, 2015).

Strengths and Weaknesses of Katharine Kolcaba’s Nursing Theory

The main strength of the theory is that it is highly testable. It calls for the involvement of the views of the family and the patients in the treatment process. It is highly evident that where patients and their families together with the health workers work hand in hand, health-seeking behaviors are easily attained, leading to improved health conditions among the patients (Carpenito, 2014). The major drawback of the theory is the fact that it is based upon comfort, a phenomenon quite relative in meaning. There is no clear definition of what comfort is and therefore, verifying its applicability depends on the definition of comfort.


It is clear that in today’s society, the nursing profession is in the process of revolutionary change. These changes are driven by countless changes in all other aspects of human life. Therefore, to ensure the flexibility of the professions to embrace all these changes, nursing theories provide the necessary reference points. It is clear that indeed, hospitals embracing the insights provided by various theories have greatly improved their service delivery, with the reference point being Nicklaus hospital. The theory of Comfort offers helpful insights aimed at integrating caring as an integral part of nursing. Therefore, it is clear from the analysis above that nursing roles constantly evolve with time, and it is indeed a fully understanding of the nursing theories that nurses can be able to cope with the changing demands.

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