Use of Nursing Grand Theories and Conversely, the Obsolescence of Nursing Grand Theories for Today’s Practice and Research

Nursing Grand Theories

Applying theoretical knowledge in nursing practice is a profound strategy for enhancing care quality and establishing justifications for patient-centered care. According to Younas & Quennell (2019), nurses should continue guiding their practice through the lens nursing theories and emphasize the rationale for nursing theory-guided practices.

The discussion about nursing theories cannot overlook the debate surrounding nursing grand theories and their applicability in the ever-changing health systems. Indra (2018) argues that grand theories have the broadest scope and present general postulates that guide all nursing instances. Examples of nursing grand theories are Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory, the theory of human becoming by Rosemarie Rizzo Parse, and Dorothea Orem’s self-care theory.

Using Nursing Grand Theories in Today’s Practice and Research

Often, nursing theories guide and inform nursing care by presenting principles, assumptions, postulates, and contentions that cut across dimensions of care. However, Mudd et al. (2020) call for appropriate appraisal methods for evaluating the application of nursing theories in today’s care and practice because many theories lack relevance at the point of care. According to Kislov et al. (2019), grand theories in nursing influence other contextual and more devolved theories such as mid-range theories that demonstrate strong interdependence with empirical observation. Therefore, it is valid to argue that grand theories offer broad insights into the nursing practice and research, offering more opportunities for advanced theoretical development and knowledge.

The Converse Obsolescence of Nursing Grand Theories

Despite the influence of nursing grand theories on mid-range and practice-level theories, they often lack clinical relevance due to their broad scope and abstraction. According to Indra (2018), these theories do not allow for empirical testing since they provide general concepts, assumptions, and propositions that limit their generalizability and applicability in particular situations. For instance, care providers in the current healthcare systems are responsible for providing patient-centered, dignified, and contextual care services amidst the dynamics in the health sector. Therefore, healthcare professionals tend to rely more on mid-range and practice-level theories in informing clinical decisions and practices. Undeniably, this consideration renders grand theories obsolescence.

Also read:

Internal and External Criticism of Middle-Range Theories Essay


Indra, V. (2018). Nursing theories: A review. International Journal of Advances in Nursing Management6(3), 271–274.

Kislov, R., Pope, C., Martin, G. P., & Wilson, P. M. (2019). Harnessing the power of theorizing in implementation science. Implementation Science14(1).

Mudd, A., Feo, R., Conroy, T., & Kitson, A. (2020). Where and how does fundamental care fit within seminal nursing theories: A narrative review and synthesis of key nursing conceptsJournal of Clinical Nursing29(19-20).

Younas, A., & Quennell, S. (2019). Usefulness of nursing theory-guided practice: An integrative review. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences33(3), 540–555.


The development of nursing knowledge is an ongoing process. Discuss the case for the ongoing development and use of nursing grand theories and conversely, make a case for the obsolescence of nursing grand theories for today’s practice and research.