Function of Theory in Nursing Practice Annotated Bibliography

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¶ … function of theory in nursing practice.

Margaret Newman and the non-nursing theory of James Fowler, which has been adopted in approaches and teachings in nursing.

Margaret Newman

Theory of Health as Expanded Consciousness (HEC)

Understanding the consciousness of patients

View of patients as a connected to universal energy

Understanding differing concepts of time, space, and reality

Interjecting caring into nurse-patient relationship

Strengths and Weaknesses

HEC Applicability in the nursing field

Questions of complexity and subjectivity

James Fowler

Definition of "Faith"

Differentiation from religion

F. Six Stages of Faith Development

Stage 1 -- Intuitive-Projective Faith

Stage 2 -- Mythic Literal Faith

Stage 3 -- Synthetic-Conventional Faith

Stage 4 -- Individuative-Reflective Faith

Stage 5 -- Conjunctive Faith

Stage 6 -- Universalizing Faith.

G. Criticisms and weaknesses in theory


Recap - Similarities and Differences between theorists

Applicability of both theories to nursing.


Awa, M., and M. Yamashita. (2008). "Persons' Experience of HIV / AIDS in Japan: Application of Margaret Newman's Theory." International Nursing Review, 55(4), 454-61.

This work explores human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV / AIDS) persons' experience in Japan through the lens of Margaret Newman's theory of health as expanding consciousness. Homosexual men afflicted with HIV / AIDS were interviewed and asked to share their personal experiences. Their narratives revealed patterns of Newman's five stages; self-conscious of own sexual orientation, chaos, stagnation, turning point and regaining a new identity. This article illustrates how, after viewing their pattern, the expanding consciousness of these men becomes evident as they become compassionate for society's underserved and underprivileged, and gain a deeper levels of connectedness with family and friends. This article also includes recommendations and implications for nurses and those working in public health.

Fowler, James W. (2004). "Faith Development at 30: Naming the Challenges in a New Millennium." Religious Education. 99(4): 405-21.

Fowler shares personal accounts of the origins and emergence of his faith development research. He examines the ways in which religious educators have critically reflected on and adopted his faith development theory and what the implication has been for religion as a whole. Also included is a critical and constructive assessment of the theory, updates to religious education with an increased focus on faith formation and growth, and thoughts about some of the challenges on the subject that are yet to come.

Hart, C.W. (2008). J. Robert Oppenheimer: A faith development portrait. Journal of Religion and Health, 47(1), 118-28. doi:

This article is a review of Oppenheimer's life as a public figure in relation to Fowler's stages of faith. Oppenheimer's life and belief system was said to encompass many themes and ideas of a religious and ethical nature. Included is a full detailed history of his life and legacy as well as analysis of his stages of faith in the face of lung cancer after a lifelong addiction to smoking.

James, N.P. (1997). Faithful change: The personal and public challenges of postmodern life. Theology Today, 54(3), 435-436.

This work is a compilation piece in which Fowler examines the complexity of life and an ever-evolving sense of faith. Separated into three parts, this work offers an update on his stages of faith, revealed through conversations with Daniel Stern and William James. Fowler also offers a detailed explanation for what he means by "healing or reconstructive change." He also takes a closer look at the concept of shame and its impact on health. The third section is concerned mainly with debates regarding global postmodernism. This work includes the personal issues of child development, injury and healing, and offers a comprehensive theoretical framework to help religious leaders in particular cope with a variety of situations that regularly occur in ministry.

Jones, T.P. (2004). The Basis of James W. Fowler's Understanding of Faith in the Research...Religious Education, 99(4), 345-357.

This work is a critical review of Wilfred Cantwell Smith's presentation of the nature of faith on James W. Fowler's faith-development paradigm. Weaknesses in Smith's original research are highlighted. The article author contends that Christianity and Fowlerian stage-development are related although the content and development of both remain essentially distinct.

Neill, J. (2002). "Transcendence and Transformation in the Life Patterns of Women Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis." ANS Advanced Nursing Sci., 24(4), 27-47.

Margaret Newman's theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness is at the heart of this article. It is a detailed case study that explores the personal life patterns of three women with rheumatoid arthritis as a process of expanding consciousness. The women's stories reveal transcendence of self-boundaries and personal transformation as new ways of living -- they find pleasure in the simple things and learn to be positive despite their circumstances. Reviewing illness stories as nursing relationships develop is useful to avoid overemphasizing the technical aspects of nursing, and as Newman contends, focus on interjecting care and concern into the nurse-patient relationship. The article does caution however that illness stories alone can exclude important information that allows people to be appreciated for their wholeness and uniqueness as human beings.

Weingourt, R. (1998). "Using Margaret a. Newman's theory of health with elderly nursing home residents." Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 34(3), 25-30.

Weingourt reviews components of Newman's views and their applicability to health and nursing as a theoretical framework for working with the elderly. A full analysis is included of how human beings are in actuality open energy systems in constant interaction with the environment, which also is an open system. The sum of Newman's philosophy for nurses is that to truly understand an individual's health status is to understand the individual's patterns of relating to the environment. To be effective, the nurse must give up the urge to fix things (or fix the patient) and instead enter the process with as a caring partner with the client. The nurse-client relationship is enhanced if the nurse can tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity until the new pattern becomes clearer.

Vandemark, Lisa. (2008). "Awareness of Self and Expanding Consciousness: Using Nursing Theories to Prepare Nurse-Therapists." Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 27(6), 605-615.

This article offers insight for nurses, particularly about the role psychotherapy can play for advanced practice psychiatric nurse. Margaret Newman's theories and ideas offer guidance on the psychological and professional development of the nurse. This paper details Newman's theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness and the concept of awareness of self. It suggests that nurses should be educated in such a way that they are better able to develop self-knowledge to facilitate the nurse-patient relationship and to improve patient care outcomes in psychotherapy.



Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, and alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response (Vandemark, 2008). It is a valued and honorable occupation. There are many nursing theories that exist and that have useful application in the profession. This paper will highlight the particular nursing theories and arguments of Margaret Newman and the faith based, non-nursing theories of James Fowler that have found their way into modern nursing practice. While these two theorists differ somewhat in their over-arching philosophies, they do share a commonality -- both focus on understanding others in very holistic way including physically, emotionally and spiritually for balanced health.

In Margaret Newman, the nursing practice can find a deeper meaning in patient interactions. A true nursing theorist, Newman believed that nurses should move beyond data collection, basic patient interviewing and routine bed checks (Awa & Yamashita, 2008). Her theories are rooted in the idea of personal relationship building and an understanding of the greater patient consciousness which is always at work and constantly evolving. Not only was she concerned with the idea of helping those patients that suffered from curable diseases, disorders and conditions, but also with the quality of health for those for whom recovery in the traditional sense was not an option (Weingourt, 1998). She proposed that nurses should look at life through a broader lens and focus on expanded definitions of helping and healing that center on connection facilitated through caring acts.

James Fowler's stages of faith development also hold weight for the nursing profession (Hart, 2008). While not a nursing theorist, his ideas offer much insight into the inner life of others -- the spiritual and faith-based life that has been proven to also aid the sick in recovery. In instances where patients must endure and cannot necessarily anticipate a recovery, faith may be the anchor for getting through each day. Fowler's six stage faith development model is heavily criticized, but also applauded (Jones, 2004). This paper will explore the merits and limitations of both Newman's and Fowler's theories in the hopes of gaining an enhanced understanding of diverse approaches that can be used in the field of nursing.

Margaret Newman -- Theory of Health

The crux of Newman's theory of health is that consciousness is a process of becoming more of oneself, of finding greater meaning in life, and of reaching new dimensions of connectedness with other people and… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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Function of Theory in Nursing Practice.  (2013, July 7).  Retrieved January 22, 2020, from

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"Function of Theory in Nursing Practice."  7 July 2013.  Web.  22 January 2020. <>.

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"Function of Theory in Nursing Practice."  July 7, 2013.  Accessed January 22, 2020.