Nursing Ontology

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Ontology, is the study of the nature of being according to the substantive focus in a discipline (Reed, 2018). On this page we will introduce you to the key components of nursing ontology which includes the metaparadigm and ontological worldviews.

The nursing metaparadigm is a broad statement describing the focus of nursing as a discipline. The evolution of nursings metaparadigm began with Walker in 1971, followed by Yura and Torres in 1975, and our very own Dr. Jacqui Fawcett in 1978. Many nursing scholars have challenged the metaparadigm, and offered suggestions for refinement. More recently, a mid-paradigm of nursing was proposed by Littzen, Langley, & Grant, along with Reed in 2020. 

Ontological worldviews, also referred to as paradigms, discourses, or philosophies, propose various beliefs about specific concepts in nursing practice, such as human beings, health, change, the environment, and the role of the nurse (Reed, 2018). Ontological worldviews in nursing developed from the early works by the developmental psychologists Pepper (1942), and Reese and Overton (1970, 1973). Nursing scholars such as Parse (1987, 2015), Newman (1991/2, 2008), Fawcett (1993), and Terry (2018), have since proposed various ontological worldviews for nursing.

Please see the table below for substantive references to these works. 

Table 1.
Substantive nursing ontology references

Author(s) and YearTitleTopic
Fawcett (1978a, 1984b, 1996c)a. The “what” of theory development.

b. The metaparadigm of nurisng: Present status and future refinements.

c. On the requirements for a metaparadigm: An invitation to dialogue.
Metaparadigm
Fawcett (1993)From a plethora of paradigms to parsimony in worldviews.Ontological Worldviews
Lee and Fawcett (2013)The influence of the metaparadigm on professionl identity development among RN-BSN studentsMetaparadigm
Littzen, Langley, and Grant (2020)The prismatic mid-paradigm of nursing.Metaparadigm
Hardy (1978a, 1978b)a. Perspectives on nursing theory.
b. Evaluating nursing theory.
Metaparadigm
Newman (1991a/2, 2008b)a. The focus of the discipline of nursing.
b. The focus of the discipline revisited.
Ontological Worldviews
Parse (1987a, 2000b, 2015c)a. Nursing science: Major paradigms, theories, and critiques.
b. Paradigms: A reprise.
c. Chapter 15: Rosemarie rizzo parse’s humanbecoming paradigm.
Ontological Worldviews
Reed (1997)Nursing: The ontology of the discipline.Nursing Ontology
Reed (2020)Moving on: From metaparadigm to midparadigm for knowledge developmentMetaparadigm
Smith and Fitzpatrick (2019)Perspectives on the unitary-transformative person-environment-health process for the knowledge base of nursingOntological Worldviews
Terry (2018)Critical inquiry into philosophical perspectives underlying nursing research on acute coronary syndromeOntological Worldviews
Walker (1971)Toward a clear understanding of the concept of nursing theoryMetaparadigm
Yura and Torres (1975)Today’s conceptual frameworks within baccalaureate nursing programs. Metaparadigm

References

Fawcett, J. (1978). The “what” of theory development. National League for Nursing Publications, (15-1708), 17-33. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/246217

Fawcett, J. (1984). The metaparadigm of nursing: Present status and future refinements. Image: the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 16(3), 84-89. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1547-5069.1984.tb01393.x

Fawcett, J. (1993). From a plethora of paradigms to parsimony in worldviews. Nursing Science Quarterly, 6(2), 56-58. https://doi.org/10.1177/089431849300600202

Fawcett, J. (1996). On the requirements for a metaparadigm: an invitation to dialogue. Nursing Science Quarterly, 9(3), 94-97. https://doi.org/10.1177/089431849600900305

Lee, R. C., & Fawcett, J. (2013). The influence of the metaparadigm of nursing on professional identity development among RN-BSN students. Nursing Science Quarterly, 26(1), 96-98. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894318412466734

Littzen, C., O. R., Langley, C. A., & Grant, C. (2020). The prismatic midparadigm of nursing. Nursing Science Quarterly, 33(1), 41-45. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894318419881806

Hardy, M. E. (1978a). Perspectives on nursing theory. Advances in Nursing Science, 1(1), 37-48. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/110218

Hardy, M. E. (1978b). Evaluating nursing theory. National League for Nursing Publications, (15-1708), 75-86. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/246221

Newman, M. A., Sime, A. M., & Corcoran-Perry, S. A. (1991). The focus of the discipline of nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 14(1), 1-6. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1819254

Newman, M. A., Smith, M. C., Pharris, M. D., & Jones, D. (2008). The focus of the discipline revisited. Advances in Nursing Science, 31(1), E16-27. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.ans.0000311533.65941.f1

Overton, W. F., & Reese, H. W. (1973). Chapter 4: Models of development: Methodological implications. In J. R. Nesselroad & H. W. Reese (Eds.), Life-span developmental psychology (pp. 65-86). Academic Press.

Parse, R. R. (1987). Nursing science: Major paradigms, theories, and critiques. W. B. Saunders Company.

Parse, R. R. (2000). Paradigms: A reprise. Nursing Science Quarterly, 13(4), 275-276. https://doi.org/10.1177/08943180022107924

Parse, R. R. (2015). Rosemarie rizzo parse’s humanbecoming paradigm. In M. C. Smith & M. E. Parker (Eds.), Nursing theories and nursing practice (4th ed., pp. 263-277). F. A. Davis Company.

Pepper, S. C. (1942). World hypotheses. University of California Press.

Reese, H. W., & Overton, W. F. (1970). Chapter 5: Models of development and theories of development. In L. R. Goulet (Ed.), Life-span developmental psychology, research and theory (pp. 115-145). New York, NY: Academic Press.

Reed, P. G. (1997). Nursing: the ontology of the discipline. Nursing Science Quarterly, 10(2), 76-79. https://doi.org/10.1177/089431849701000207

Reed, P. G. (2020). Moving on: From metaparadigm to midparadigm fro knowledge development. Nursing Science Quarterly, 33(1), 38-40. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894318419881796

Reed, P. G., & Shearer, N. B. C. (2018). Nursing knowledge and theory innovation: Advancing the science of practice (2nd ed). Springer Publishing Company.

Smith, M. J., & Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2019). Perspectives on the unitary-transformative person-environment-health process for the knowledge base of nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 42(1), 43-57. https://doi.org/10.1097/ans.0000000000000250

Terry, H. E. (2018). Critical inquiry into philosophical perspectives underlying nursing research on acute coronary syndrome. (Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation). The University of Arizona.

Walker, L. O. (1971). Towards a clear understanding of the concept of nursing theory. Advances in Nursing Science, 20(5), 428-435. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nursingresearchonline/Citation/1971/09000/TOWARD_A_CLEARER_UNDERSTANDING_OF_THE_CONCEPT_OF.6.aspx

Yura, H., & Torres, G. (1975). Educational trends which influenced the development of the conceptual framework within the curriculum. National League for Nursing Publications, (15-1558), 9-16. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1038606

Last updated: August 24th, 2020