Tasha N. Herndon
GPNG 523 Historical and Contemporary Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice
May 27, 2015
What is theory evaluation? Theory evaluation is the method of thoroughly inspecting a theory (McEwen & Wills, 2014). It recognizes a theory’s degree of effectiveness to guide practice, research, education, and administration (McCrae, 2012). Evaluating a theory offers a systematic, objective way of examining a theory, assists in determining strengths and weakness, and identifies the potential impact of the theory to scientific knowledge (McEwen & Wills, 2014). Just as any ideas should be examined before blind approval, so should nursing theory. A critique involves seriously thinking about the theory and judging its worth in a certain situation. An evaluation regarding the involvement of the theory to body of knowledge must be made.
The scope of a theory must be considered before selecting a method of evaluation. Is the theory a grand nursing theory? A philosophy? A middle-range nursing theory? A practice theory? Not all characteristics of theory described in an evaluation method are apparent in all levels of theory. For example, questions about pain, ethnics, symptom management, and health promotion are probably not appropriate to use in evaluating philosophies. McEwen and Wills (2014) distinguishes this in offering certain guides for analysis and/or evaluation that vary according to the different types of nursing theory.
Theory evaluation may be thought of as one-step process, a two-step sequence, or a three-step process (McEwen & Wills, 2014). Models for theory evaluation are meant as tools to advise us about theories, and to inspire further development, refinement, and use of theory (Jeffs et al., 2013). There are no examples for theory evaluation that are sufficient and suitable for every nursing theory.
Throughout the years, many scholars have offered methods for theory evaluation to assist in determining if theories serve their foreseen purpose. In McEwen and Wills (2014), there is method that combines criteria from different methods of nursing researchers. This method offers an interesting approach and is intended to evaluate middle range and practice theories (McEwen & Wills, 2014). In the synthesized method for theory evaluation, there is a significant amount of questions to be considered. When considering my own practice, I believe of these there are 3 that are most important. Following is a list of these 3 questions.
1. What is the purpose of the theory?
2. Has the theory been tested empirically? Is it supported by research? Does it appear to be accurate or valid?
3. Does the theory contribute to the discipline of nursing?
When thinking about the importance of the prior mentioned questions in my own practice, the first concept I think about is pain assessment. Pain assessment is not only important in my own practice but in all nursing practice. Pain is the most common complaint of patients in the clinical setting. Middle range theory covers the concept of pain and therefore according to McEwen and Wills (2014) the subsidized method of theory evaluation can be used when analyzing this concept. Makic, Rauen, Watson, and Poteet (2014) use the subsidized method of nursing theory evaluation to evaluate the purpose of pain assessment, the supported research regarding pain assessment, and how pain assessment contributes to nursing practice. According to studies, unrelieved pain due to improper nursing assessment can affect the quality of life of patients (Makic et al., 2014). Learning about pain assessment and pain relief is an