Purpose of General Theory of Nursing

Core Concepts

There are four core concepts in nursing theories that a nurse incorporates while reviewing, formulating and delivering nursing care: the person, the environment, health and nursing itself (goals, roles and functions).


There are four successively more abstract types of nursing theories: practice theory, middle range theory, grand theory and metatheory. A practice theory involves factors or situations related to specific phenomenon, for example, while a metatheory reflects a global perspective about a body of knowledge.


Nursing theories can also be classified by their functions as descriptive, explanatory, predictive or prescriptive.


When incorporating a theoretical framework into practice, a nurse changes focus from a vocational to a more professional role, and patient care outcomes improve significantly.

Theory-Practice Gap

There is still a gap between theory and practice in nursing, largely because theories are developed in academic settings removed from direct nursing care at the bedside. Nursing theories offer an organized and systematic way to express statements related to questions in nursing, providing nurses with the opportunity to describe, predict, explain and control phenomenon related to their practice. Each theory is made up of a group of concepts that lead a nurses to actions that guide their practice.