Metatheoretical Blueprint for cumulating nursing knowledge: A reconstructed theory of chronic illness

Nancy M Dluhy, University of Rhode Island


This foundational research proposes a method for cumulating knowledge in any substantive area within the client domain of nursing. Nursing has emerged as a pluralistic science, valuing knowledge drawn from qualitative and quantitative research, and organized both in highly formalized or interpretive theories. Simply cumulating this diverse knowledge base by additive methods is therefore unwieldy, confusing and conceptually illogical. This study focuses on the questions: is there a valid though simplified method of theory development to represent all that is known in a large substantive area essential to nursing, and how does the reconstruction and integration of knowledge in a substantive area provide direction for future research?^ The research design required a critical exploration into the foundations of scientific knowledge in general and the complexities of human sciences in particular. Strategies to cumulate knowledge are analyzed across a wide array of disciplines. The Metatheoretical Blueprint is developed from the intersection two continua: (a) the ontology of the person including the person's ability to control or be controlled and the nature of person's mind/body/soul, and (b) the epistemology of nursing knowledge including the nature and aims of science. Specific defined criteria associated with each position along the ontological and epistemological continua provide for agreement on the location of each knowledge "bit" on the blueprint.^ This method for cumulating knowledge is tested utilizing the substantive area of chronic illness. Six major themes comprised of twenty conceptual categories are developed from the prevailing literature utilized by nursing. Major theoretical influences (Parsons, Strauss, Goffman, Lazarus and Selye) can be identified. These foundational works and related knowledge "bits" forming the six themes cluster within different quadrants of the metatheoretical blueprint.^ Bridging concepts, fruitful avenues of future research and the potential for reconceptualizing the chronic illness experience are identified utilizing this method. This model provides a mechanism to stimulate research, theoretical and practice dialogue in nursing science. The completed blueprint also serves as a conceptual map for a program of research in a substantive area. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Nursing

Recommended Citation

Nancy M Dluhy, "Metatheoretical Blueprint for cumulating nursing knowledge: A reconstructed theory of chronic illness" (1993). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9332432.