The proper execution of Advanced Nursing Practice is very much reliant on theory analysis and evaluation. Analysis refers to the objective and nonjudgmental description of a nursing theory while evaluation involves the judgments about the extent to which a nursing theory satisfies certain criteria (Fawcett, 2000). Theory analysis and evaluation entails the systematic and detailed review of all available primary sources such as publications and presentations by theorists (Fawcett, 2000). Theory Analysis and Evaluation are done in order to determine the exact assertions and practicality of a theory instead of relying on inferences from other authors on that theory.
The relevance of analyzing a nursing theory can be summed up in three cardinal steps. Firstly, should be an analysis of the origins of the nursing theory. This reveals the historical evolution of the theory, the author’s motivation, the philosophical claims and lastly the influences on the author’s thinking from nursing school and scholars of related disciplines (Fawcett, 2000). Analyzing the origins also reveal the world views of the theory.
Secondly, analyzing a theory reveals its uniqueness or its unique focus. As such, analyzing the theory shows the presence or absence of distinctions that set the theory apart from other similar or related theories. The distinctions to be analyzed include client-focus, developmental systems, substitution, nursing therapeutics, conservation energy fields, sustenance, support and enhancement among many others (Fawcett, 2000). The more a theory is unique, the more it portends to solve longstanding problems in any given field.
Thirdly, analyzing a theory also entails examining its content for relevance in the practice of nursing. This entails categorizing the content of a theory into concepts that represent the person, the environment, health and nursing (Fawcett, 2000). Most importantly analyzing the content of a theory must examine how it defines nursing, how it differentiates illness and wellness, how it describes nursing practice as well as how it incorporates people and the environment. Since the ultimate goal of any plausible nursing theory is to improve health care among all people, these latter aspects must all be analyzed in order to ensure the sustainability and usefulness of any nursing theory.
The relevance of evaluating nursing practice entails judging whether theories satisfy certain criteria. The criteria includes; testability, Empirical Adequacy, Internal Consistency, Pragmatic Adequacy, Significance and Parsimony (Fawcett, 2000). The evaluation of significance brings to the fore the importance or the justification of a nursing theory to the nursing discipline. A theory has to meet the philosophical, conceptual and the metaparadigmatic aspects of nursing. The evaluation of Internal Consistency requires all the elements of a theorist’s work (philosophical claims, conceptual models, theory propositions and concepts) to be congruent or consistent (Fawcett, 2000). Evaluation also reveals the semantic consistency and clarity of a theory and its suitability in varying situations.
Evaluation of nursing theories also reveals the Parsimony or the content of the theory. According to Fawcett (2000) parsimony seeks to establish whether a theory has been stated in the most economical way possible without oversimplifying the phenomena of interest. The fewer the propositions and phenomena required to fully explicate the phenomena of interest, the better. Evaluation of a nursing theory also reveals its testability or its ability to be subjected to empirical tests which can confirm its conformance to scientific expectations, other theories and probable dynamics (Fawcett, 2000).
Evaluation also reveals the conformance of nursing theories to Empirical Adequacy. In this case, evaluation reveals the extent to which a theory meets the criterion of empirical adequacy by systematically reviewing the findings of all studies guided by that theory. Lastly, evaluation of nursing theories is relevant to advanced nursing practice because it reveals a theory’s Pragmatic Adequacy. In this case the theory should be by all means practical- applicable in the practical nursing world and in accordance with the interpersonal and psychomotor skills necessary to its successful application (Fawcett, 2000).
The analysis and evaluation of nursing theories is of utmost importance in advanced nursing practice. Analysis reveals the origins and motivations of each theory, its uniqueness and its content. Evaluating the theory critically and judgmentally examines the relevance of the theory with issues of its practicality and absolute importance coming to the fore.
Fawcett, J. (2000) Contemporary Nursing Knowledge: Analysis and Evaluation of Nursing Models and Theories. (2nd Ed.) F. A. Davis Company. Philadelphia.