Nursing Theory Analysis Paper Example


Nurses rely on several theories when offering their services. It is because nursing is a complex undertaking that needs to be grounded on viable theories, which are capable of guiding nurse practitioners. Several theorists have given essential contributions to nursing through theory development. This discussion presents an analysis of Hildegard E. Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relations. The theory asserts that nursing is a therapeutic process that involves interaction between at least two people.

Key words: nursing, interpersonal relations, environment, person, health


Peplau Interpersonal Relations Theory: Background

Theory of interpersonal relations is one of the most commonly used nursing theories. It was developed by the theorist called Hildegard E. Peplau (Wayne, 2014). Peplau was born in 1909 in Pennsylvania, USA. She pursued a diploma program in Pottstown and graduated in 1931. Peplau attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in interpersonal psychology from Bennington College in 1943 before pursuing an MA in psychiatric nursing from Columbia University in 1947. In 1953, Peplau attained an EdD in curriculum development (Wayne, 2014). She was awarded as a Professor Emeritus from Rutgers University, after which she embarked on a nursing post baccalaureate program. In 1952, Peplau published interpersonal relations in Nursing. She also served as the president and executive director of ANA. Besides, Peplau worked with Nurse Corps, NIMH, and WHO. She later died in 1999 after making several achievements in nursing. Hildegard E. Peplau had a vast knowledge in nursing and interpersonal relations. After pursuing a BA degree in interpersonal psychology and advancing her studies by pursuing a MA in psychiatric nursing, Peplau realized the essence of promoting development of interpersonal relations between patients and nurses (Masters, 2014).

Peplau’s vast experience in nursing and interpersonal psychology enabled her to develop the theory of interpersonal relations. This theory has been applied by a number of scholars in their researches. For example, Hays in 1961 made references to the theory when conducting a research on the phases and steps that should be undertaken when conducting an experimental teaching to patients who show anxiety. The study led to the conclusion that patients, who were taught using experimental methods, were in a better position to use the anxiety idea after termination of the group. Similarly, the theory was referred to by F. Burd when developing and testing a nursing intervention framework to be used when dealing with anxious patients.

The theory is essential as it addresses the need to establish a strong and healthy relationship between patients and nurses. It is based on the understanding that nursing is an interpersonal undertaking, which calls upon patients and nurses to work closely so as to enable both to gain more knowledge and skills in the process. As such, the theory helps in providing detailed explanations about the need to apply the concept of interpersonal relations in nursing to attain effective results.

As usual, theorists are often influenced by given factors that act as push factors, which present the need for them to offer solutions. Some theorists are also influenced by the need to give more insight to the existing theory or to widen the scope of the given theory. When developing the theory of interpersonal relations, Peplau was influenced by the theory of interpersonal relations developed by Harry Stack in 1953 (Wayne, 2014). Other people who influenced Peplau’s development of the theory are Abraham Maslow and Percival Symonds. The theory is also referred to as psychodynamic nursing as it involves establishment of measures, which enable patients and nurses to understand their own behavior.

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Theory Description

Wayne (2014) stated that the theory of interpersonal relations was characterized as a middle-range descriptive classification theory. This theory is categorized as the middle-range theory because it is based on an empirical phenomenon, from which its abstracts lead to the creation of statements that can be generalized by the use of data. The theory uses deductive reasoning. It is due to the understanding that it begins by asserting the general rule before it narrows down to a particular conclusion. The truth in the original general assertions leads to an obvious truth of the conclusion. In the context of the theory, the main assertion, which it makes, is that nursing is an interpersonal undertaking, which involves interaction between at least two people, a nurse and a patient. In some cases, the interaction extends to a third party when members of the patient’s family are involved in the nursing process. The theory develops from the essence of interaction to the conclusion that provision of quality nursing services calls for an effective interaction between nurses and patients (Fawcett, & Desanto-Madeva, 2013).

Theory of interpersonal relations is based on a number of major concepts. First, it gives explanations, which seek to justify that nursing is mainly intended at helping other people identify their difficulties. Secondly, the theory asserts that it is essential for nurses to use the principles of human relations in addressing problems that are encountered at all levels of their experience (Washington, 2013). Third, it clarifies phases that the interpersonal process should go through, the responsibilities that should be executed in the nursing context, and appropriate methods, which should be used when undertaking nursing studies. The theory also asserts that nursing is a therapeutic undertaking as it concerns healing or helping patients or those who need health care. Another vital concept introduced by the theory is that it looks at nursing as an interpersonal relation that calls for an interaction between at least two people who have a common goal. Peplau’s theory suggests that successful goal attainment is based on the ability of those involved in the nursing process to follow a series of steps in a series of patterns (Washington, 2013). The theory suggests that patients and nurses should be in a position to work together so that they go through the process of maturity as they gain knowledge and skills.

There is a remarkable level of consistency in the way Peplau uses concepts and terms in her theory. It is because she makes adequate attempts to ensure that she relates her concepts to the main issue that the theory addresses. All concepts used in the theory are explicitly defined. They are defined in such a manner, which relates to interactions that occur between nurses and patients, and the need for a mutual understanding between nurses and their patients. Therefore, the author ensures that her concepts are related so as to succeed in presenting the assertion that effective provision of nursing services is based on the ability to promote knowledge acquisition by nurses and patients during the nursing process.

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Evaluation of the Theory of Interpersonal Relations

The theory of interpersonal relations is built on four main assumptions. First, the theory is based on the assumption that an interaction between nurses and patients is possible. Second, it is built on the assumption that the therapeutic interaction, which occurs between patients and nurses leads to their maturity. The theory is also based on the assumption that skills in interviewing and communication are essential in nursing and that for nurses to promote growth of their patients, it is important for them to understand themselves. Peplau believes that when nurses clearly understand themselves they are unlikely to limit health care choices that patients make to their personal values.

The theory clearly describes four metaparadigm concepts of nursing, namely person, environment, health, and nursing (Masters, 2014). Peplau defines the concept ‘person’ as a developing organism, which makes efforts aimed at limiting anxiety resulting from needs. The second concept, ‘environment’, refers to the forces, which exist outside an organism in the cultural context. Other terms are ‘health’ and ‘nursing’. The later refers to a therapeutic interpersonal process, which operates alongside with human processes to facilitate health for individuals and societies. The former refers to creative and productive living.

Theory of interpersonal relations adheres to the principle of clarity. It is easily understandable as it uses simple terms to explain patients’ preconceptions and expectations that should be adhered to in the nursing context to facilitate free interaction between patients and nurses. The theory shows lucidness and consistency in the manner, in which interrelated terms are used to define main concepts. It is also consistent with the earlier theories, upon which it was developed. A good example is the earlier theory of interpersonal relations that was developed by Harry Stack in 1953 (Fitzpattrick & McCarthy, 2014).

Application of the Theory of Interpersonal Relations

The theory can be applied in nursing to guide interactions between patients and nurses so as to facilitate the attainment of desirable health care results. It uses main concepts, which are applicable to the nursing, health, human being, and environment. As such, it can be used to understand how patients should be handled in such a way, which allows them to get empowered for them to be capable of taking care of their own health in future. The theory looks at nursing as an interactive process, in which mutual understanding and cooperation are vital. It can be used in the area of nurse informatics to facilitate acquisition of patients’ information, storage of information and communicating it when it is necessary. It is because patients’ health information can only be obtained by interacting with them. The interaction should occur in an environment, which enables patients to feel free so that they can offer all essential information. Having clear understanding of interpersonal interactions importance in the health care setting enables health informaticists to value patients and to give them time to suggest how best they wish to be attended to.

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