Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Paper

Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Paper

Process of Concept Development Part I: Walker and Avant


In this module, you will be introduced to terminology related to concept development. And, we will discuss the systematic methods utilized in concept development in an effort to understand concepts thoroughly Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Paper.

This module provides the background you will need to understand:

  • what a concept is, and
  • how it is used in theory development.

It will outline the tools and techniques that are commonly used to develop, analyze, and evaluate concepts for utilization in nursing practice, research, administration, and education.

Many of the theories and strategies we will discussed are derived from the work of Lorrain Walker and Kay Avant, co-authors of Strategies for Theory Construction in Nursing. The purpose of this module is to further discuss systematic methods utilized in concept development in an effort to thoroughly understand concepts. Specifically, Rodger’s evolutionary method of concept analysis will be explored.


Fig. 11: Textbook Cover


This module focuses on theory and concept development. Upon completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • compare and contrast strategies and processes designed for the development of concepts.
  • identify relevant terms used in concept analysis, including critical attributes, empirical referents, antecedents, and consequences.
  • present a succinct analysis of the state of knowledge for a selected concept.

    Fig. 12: Concepts at Work

Topics Index

These topics are designed to direct your readings, assist you in the development of assignments, and prepare you for module discussions Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Paper.

  1. Process of Concept Development
    2.     Concept Synthesis
    3.     Concept Derivation
    4.     Concept Analysis 
  2. Process of Concept Development

Although nurses are usually focused on the practical application of nursing knowledge, experienced nurses demonstrate an inclination toward generalizing what they have learned from a group of clients to other clients with similar problems. In other words, a certain phenomenon may be seen frequently enough in practice that nurses have developed clinical protocols or interventions for the phenomenon.

Whether or not these observed phenomena have acquired a name or have been studied in research, nurses consider them to be reliable, enduring, and stable features of practical experience. This, in turn, may guide development of clinical hypotheses and testing of interventions.

For nurses who would like to discriminatively and formally examine a phenomenon in depth, the most logical place to start is defining the phenomenon or concept of interest for further study. This is not an easy task and takes significant time, research, and effort to adequately define nursing concepts. To simplify the process, a number of strategies and methods for concept analysis, concept development, and concept clarification have been proposed and utilized by nursing scholars for many years.

Concept development, concept synthesis, concept derivation, and concept analysis are terms that refer to the rigorous process of bringing clarity to the definition of the concepts used in science. Concept analysis and concept development are the terms used most commonly in nursing, and are generally applied to the process of inquiry that examines concepts for their level of development as revealed by their internal structure, use, representative qualities, and relationship to other concepts. Thus, concept analysis/concept development explores the meaning of concepts to promote understanding.

The purpose of concept development or concept analysis is to clarify, recognize, and define concepts that describe phenomena of interest. These processes serve as the basis for development of conceptual frameworks and research studies Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Paper.

There are a number of methods of constructing meaning of concepts. Wilson developed a process for defining concepts to improve the understanding of the meaning of scientific terms. Wilson’s technique is an 11 step approach to guide the concept analysis process. Over the years, nursing scholars modified Wilson’s methods. Walker and Avant’s technique is the most common one used for concept analysis in nursing. Walker and Avant’s technique is based on Wilson’s method and describe three different processes: concept synthesisconcept derivation, and concept analysis.

  1. Concept Synthesis

Concept synthesis is used to generate new ideas when concepts require development based on observation or other forms of evidence. Concept synthesis is useful in areas of interest where little or no concept development exists, in areas of interest where concept development is present but has had not had significant impact on theory or practice, and in areas of interest where phenomena has been observed or experienced but not classified or named. Concept synthesis requires one to employ a method for grouping or placing the information about the phenomena in the order it must be developed. There are three methods for synthesizing concepts; qualitative synthesisquantitative synthesis, and literary synthesis.

Qualitative synthesis relies on sensory data and looking similarities, differences, and patterns among the data to identify the new concept. Quantitative synthesis requires numerical data to delineate those attributes that belong to the concept and those that do not. The last method for concept synthesis is literary synthesis, which involves reviewing a wide range of literature to acquire new insights about the concept or to find new concepts.


  1. Concept Derivation

From Walker and Avant’s perspective, concept derivation is necessary when there are few concepts available to a nurse that explain a problem area. The purpose of concept derivation is to generate new ways of thinking about phenomena of interest. Concept derivation is applicable when a comparison or analogy can be made between one field or an area that is conceptually defined and another that is not. Concept derivation consists of moving a concept from one area of inquiry to another area. During this transposing of the concept, it is necessary to redefine the concept for it to be “a good fit” in the area of inquiry Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Paper.

Fig. 13: Strategies for Theory Construction in Nursing

Walker and Avant developed a four-step procedure for the work of moving possible concepts from disciplines outside nursing into the nursing vocabulary.

The first step in concept derivation requires the concept developer to become thoroughly familiar with the existing literature. This involves reviewing and critiquing the literature for the usefulness of existing concept development. Concept derivation may be necessary if the literature lacks the relevant concepts. The second step involves searching other fields of interest for ways of viewing the topic of interest. In the third step, the concept developer selects a parent concept from another field or discipline that gives an insightful view of the topic. The last step in concept derivation involves the redefining of the concept(s) in terms of the topic of interest.

  1. Concept Analysis

Fig 14: Model of the Concept of Emotional Burden 

Walker and Avant’s third technique in defining concepts, concept analysis, is a formal, linguistic approach to clarify the meanings of terms and to define terms so that a common language exists. Concept analysis is “a process of examining the basic elements of a concept” (Walker & Avant, 2005, p. 64). Concept analysis is required when concepts need to be clarified, or further development is required to define them for nursing research, theory development, or practice.

As previously mentioned, Walker and Avant’s procedure for concept analysis is a modified and simplified version of Wilson’s concept analysis procedure. This method for concept analysis requires an eight-step approach:

  1. Select a concept.
  2. Determine the aims or purposes of analysis or “Why am I doing this analysis?”
  3. Identify all the uses of the concept possible.
  4. Determine the defining attributes.
  5. Identify model case.
  6. Identify borderline, related, contrary, invented, and illegitimate case.
  7. Identify antecedents and consequences.


Post a response to one of the following questions in the discussion forum, and respond to at least two of your classmate’s postings. Your initial response and responses to others should be 100-200 words.  Respond to your classmate’s requests for feedback. In addition, follow the guidelines provided in the Grading Rubric for Online Discussions-500 Level Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Paper.

Module V    
  Readings Walker & Avant, Chapters 4, 10, 13

Concept analysis tutorial:

  Forum Choose two concepts that you consider very close to one another in definition. Describe how you would approach teasing out their differences.

In the medical environment, references are made to the concepts of ‘partnership’ and ‘collaboration’. In fact, the two concepts are frequently used interchangeably with most used as policy driven terminology to refer to partnership, working together, joining up, and thinking together. Despite the interchangeable use of the two concepts, they are distinctive since broad definitions would show that partnership is a state of being while collaboration is an action (Kersey-Matusiak, 2013). Still, to tease out the actual differences between the two concepts would first have to identify the different models for the two concepts before looking at the different ways in which they actually work (Walker & Avant, 2011). One thing that would emerge from the analysis is the way in which the definition if the concept, accompanying theory and actual practice drift apart. Occasionally, a partnership could be nothing more than an end in itself or a rhetoric with little to no evidence that partners actually work together (de Chesnay & Anderson, 2015). Similarly, it is possible for a collaboration to exist between two different parties without having a formalized partnership in place. As a result, it is necessary to tease out the correlation between the concepts of partnership and collaboration with the intention of clarifying their practice effectiveness (Lundy & Janes, 2014). This means that identifying the differences between the two would examine the concepts, use concept analysis framework to evaluate and explore their distinguishing features, and highlight the features for the two while contextualizing these features within policy agenda. In addition, it would debate the implications of the two concepts for effective management, and how they are operationalized and understood by different medical professions. At the conclusion of the analysis, it will be possible to identify the attributes of collaboration and partnership in medical setting, the benefits of the two concepts in health care, and barriers to the two concepts that must be overcome (Walker & Avant, 2011).


de Chesnay, M. & Anderson, B. (2015). Caring for the vulnerable: perspective in nursing theory, practice and research (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Kersey-Matusiak, G. (2013). Delivering culturally competent nursing care. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, LLC.

Lundy, K. & Janes, S. (2014). Community health nursing: caring for the public’s health (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Walker, L. & Avant, K. (2011). Strategies for theory construction in nursing (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Theoretical Foundation of Nursing Paper.




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