Middle Range Theory in Nursing Research and Practise

Published: 2019-10-18 11:30:00
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The nursing profession, just like other disciplined fields, comprises of a special body of knowledge that defines the way things are handled. Previously, nursing as a profession depended on knowledge, theories, and concepts from other fields such as sociology, medicine, and psychology as a basis for practice. However, Currently, Nursing has its set of practises that are used in developing its research. These activities such as theories and models provide information regarding goals of practice, the scope of nursing, principles forming the basis of practice and finally defining nursing and nursing practice (Riegel et al., 2012). One theory that is used in nursing research and practise is the middle range theory.

Definition and Discussion of the Purpose of a Middle Range Theory

Middle range theories are commonly used in nursing practice to develop concepts and phenomena used in nursing practice. According to Riegel (2012), Middle range theory is the approach that is deployed in the construction of theories. Developed by Robert Merton, this approach is useful in the integration of the aspects of theory and research in nursing. Indeed, the middle range theories are concerned with social research and phenomena. In these theories, the isolated propositions that sum up similarities and uniformities between tow variables are identified. Additionally, in the view of Green & Schweber (2008), a range of assumptions is made from which the empirical generalizations are derived. The close relationship between the middle range theories and sociology is necessary for empirical study.

A comparison between the middle ranger theories and other grand theories shows that the middle range theories are less abstract. Although they are considered minor, the middle range theories provide the necessary working hypothesis in nursing research. They are narrower in scope and contain more specific phenomena that makes using them in research better for nurse researchers. The fewer concepts and propositions of the theory as well as the more appropriate empirical testing possessed by the theories are fundamental in nursing research. In nursing practise, the middle range theories can be directly applied in the explanation of nursing situations and the implementation of various best practises based on the results of the empirical research.

Description of How the Theory of Uncertainty in Illness Relates To Research and Practice

The middle range theory of uncertainty in illness refers to the case when it is difficult to establish the meaning and causes of some illness related events and, therefore, difficult to predict the outcomes as such events which would lead to the deployment of the necessary preventive measure (Merle Mishel, 2010). This theory can be applied in chronic illnesses to evaluate the causes of the illnesses and identify any uniformity between various chronic illnesses. McCormick (2002) conducted a research that concentrated on the causes and consequences of uncertainty in diagnosing and treatment of the chronic illness. Among the consequences he noted in the study was stress and depression to the patients. In addition, there was a risk of health care providers treating the wrong disease. A study on breast cancer, which is one of chronic illness, showed that there was a relationship of uncertainty, treatment, control and threats to coping strategies employed by women diagnosed with breast cancer. Additionally, nurses applied the theory to get an understanding of the methods of preventing the adverse consequences. This, therefore, shows that the concepts of theory can be used to identify causes of uncertainty and ways of implementation of any relevant preventive measures.

Literature Review

Various authors have used the middle range theories in their research. Smith and Liehr (2014) describes the three basics of middle range theirs as middle range descriptions, middle range explanatory theories, and predictive theory. The author adds that the middle range theories are critical in research as they provide specific and detailed description of phenomena that is subject of the study. Additionally, the commonalities that exists in the said phenomena are also shown by the use of the middle range theories. According to Smith and Liehr (2014), this theory can be empirically tested by the use of the quantitative and qualitative approach by the researcher. Additionally, other probable testing and collection of data is done through observation due to the discreet nature of the variables.

Peterson & Bredow (2004) adds to this discussion by stating that the middle range theories can be used in research to give a specific explanation of phenomena. In this regard, the explanatory theory can be used to explain the why and how of phenomena or the theoretical concept being investigated for a particular research. Additionally, the correlation between two or more variables presented is identified for providing relevant information that is important in a particular field of nursing. Parker & Smith (2010) weighs in and opines that the conceptual model of is composed of various disciplines that are equally important in the nursing practise. As such, the use of this theory in research provides some degree of predictability. More importantly, the use of the conceptual model is fundamental in the analysis and determination of specific phenomena of research.

Findings of the Brief Review of Literature

From the review of three scholarly articles, several findings can be noted. One of the critical ones is that the middle range theories can be used in research as they provide detailed information of the phenomenon being studied albeit using different approaches. Additionally, the prescriptive and predictive theory is very effective in the analysis of the findings of empirical research. Moreover, the explanatory theory is very critical in providing various assumptions and hypotheses that seek to provide specific explanations of certain phenomena that is the subject of a nursing research and study. Indeed, the use of conceptual models by nurse researchers enables the provision of a systematic way of analysing and determining a specified phenomenon.

Application of the Theory of Uncertainty of Illness to My Own Practice and Explanation of How It Could or Could Not Fit My Practice

The uncertainty of illness theory can be used in my nursing practise to provide evidence-based proposals for treating chronic illness such as cancer (Merle Mishel, 2010). Specifically, I would use the theory to predict the side effects of chemotherapy such as insomnia and hot flushes. An example of an evidence proposal I studied that employed this theory was the effect of fatigue, soft music and controlled sleeping hours on cancer patients in the acute facility. In this proposal, it is important to note that symptoms in the patients varied which was a critical aspect to consider in its development. Additionally, the stage of cancer also varied which meant that the patients were to be exposed to different activities. However, some aspects of this theory cannot fit because any practises are based on evidence and not predictions.

In conclusion, the middle range theories are critical in the conduct of empirical research in making assumptions and formulating hypothesis. The theories are more specific and can be used to show any uniformity in the study of particular phenomena. The theory of uncertainty of illness can be used in finding the cases and effects of chronic illnesses as well as testing the suitability of any new medication. This theory can fit in my practice to establish the effects of fatigue and other issues.


Davis Co. Peterson, S. J., & Bredow, T. S. (2004). Middle range theories: Application to nursing research. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Green, S. D., & Schweber, L. (2008). Forum theorizing in the context of professional practice: the case for middle-range theories. Building Research & Information, 36(6), 649-654.McCormick, K. M. (2002). A concept analysis of uncertainty in illness. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 34(2), 127-131.

Merle Mishel (2010) Uncertainty of illness - Merle Mishel middle range nursing theorist. Retrieved July 21, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/a/northgeorgia.edu/merle-mishel-middle-range-nursing-theorist/home/uncertainty-of-illnessParker, M. E., & Smith, M. C. (2010). Nursing theories and nursing practice. Philadelphia: F.A.

Riegel, B., Jaarsma, T., & Stromberg, A. (2012). A middle-range theory of self-care of chronic illness. Advances in Nursing Science, 35(3), 194-204.

Smith, M. J., & In Liehr, P. R. (2014). Middle range theory for nursing.


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