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Nursing: Nursing Theory

Library resource guide for students in Nursing.

About This Page

Nursing theories are theoretical frameworks that aim to explain the nursing profession. They are typically divided into three categories (click for examples):

Off-Campus Access

The small lock icon office campus lock icon beside a link indicates this is an online library resource.  When you click on the resource link from off-campus you'll be redirected to a login page. Login using your MacID and password to access the content.

Starting Points

These textbook-style resources are a great starting point for learning about different nursing theories/theorists!

Searching CINAHL

A number of subject terms in CINAHL LibAccess Icon (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) will lead you to academic journal articles covering nursing theory/theorists.  If you have specific theory/theorist in mind:

  • Search for "nursing models, theoretical", ensuring that the Suggest Subject Terms option is selected. 
  • Click on the subject term ("nursing models, theoretical") to reveal narrower terms covering specific nursing theories (e.g. Henderson Nursing Model, Nueman Systems Model, etc). 
  • Use the checkbox to select the theory/theorist of interest and add it to your search history.
  • Add supplementary subject terms or keywords to narrow your search futher.
  • Click here for an illustrated example.

If you don't have a specific nursing theory in mind, try using some of these more general subject terms to start your search:

  • nursing theory
  • philosophy, nursing
  • nursing as profession
  • nursing practice, theory based

See our CINAHL tutorial for tips on combining these broad subject terms with more precise keywords.

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