Locating Information on Nurse Theorists and Nursing Theory

April 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Nursing students often ask for library assistance locating materials on a particular nurse theorist’s work and related writings.  Beginning with Florence Nightingale in the 1800s, nurse theorists represent distinguished scholars who have shaped the education, practice, management and research of modern nursing science.  Courses on nursing theory are customarily taught at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degree levels and nursing theory content is highly integrated into nursing education curricula on the whole.  Students spend time analyzing, critiquing and gaining appreciation of the various philosophies and, using critical thinking skills, they apply theory-specific concepts to total patient care planning. 

The CINAHL database is an important resource for locating articles from the field of nursing.  CINAHL is accessible from the database listing on the left side of the library homepage. CINAHL covers close to 3,000 journals specializing in nursing and allied health with citations dating back to 1981 as well as other material types such as book chapters and pamphlets.  While the look and feel of CINAHL has changed somewhat over the last couple of years, it’s fairly user-friendly. 
To locate articles about a nurse theorist or a theorist’s work, first simply type either the name of the theorist or the name of the model or theory into the search box, ensuring that the Suggest Subject Terms box is checked.  CINAHL will attempt to match the keyword or phrase you have entered with an appropriate standardized database vocabulary term referred to as a subject heading or CINAHL Heading.  In the screen view below, Jean Watson’s name has been entered into the search box.
CINAHL automatically matches the name, Jean Watson, with the subject heading, “Watson’s Theory of Caring”.   If there is no apparent subject heading match, you can alternatively check the box next to your initial keyword or phrase where it appears with (Search as Keyword).  In the screen view below, the Search as Keyword option is underlined twice.  Selecting the Search as Keyword option will pull up results in which the word or phrase appears in the main citation.  Be sure to click on the Search Database button near the top of the page, highlighted in pink in the screen view below, to see the actual results. 
Database limits, such as the option to restrict to research articles and a date range, may be set to refine the results. 
Another approach for locating relevant published works by nurse theorists is to search for the nurse theorist as an author.  In CINAHL, use the field code, AU, from the drop down field codes link, highlighted in pink in the screen view below, followed by the last name and first initial of the nurse theorist.  In this example, AU Levine M has entered into the search box to find items written by Myra Levine.
The result list may include other authors with the same last name and first initial so you could also add a keyword into the search box using the AND connector (referred to as Boolean operator) to avoid irrelevant results.  You might enter AU Levine M AND conservation into the search box to limit results to Myra Levine’s work regarding the Conservation Model (excluding articles by Michael Levine, Molly Levine, and so forth).
It’s important to use the correct spelling as the database won’t recognize an error in a personal name.  For instance, be careful not to confuse the spelling of the last name Neuman with Newman or you may only come across citations referring to Betty Neuman when you were actually looking for Margaret Newman’s theory. 
The Colonial Library Services staff have created Hot Topics lists containing materials held by Plummer Library on a number of major nurse theorists and nursing theory.  These lists can be found at the following intranet link – http://library.mayo.edu/hottopics/index.html#n or by going to the Colonial Library Services intranet page and clicking on Hot Topics and scrolling down the the links under the letter N. 
The Mayo Clinic Libraries online catalog is another good resource to check for information on nurse theorists or nursing theory.  Try searching with the theorist’s name under the Keyword tab and you’ll obtain results consisting primarily of books but also videos and other materials.  In the example below, the name Madeleine Leininger has been entered into the search box to locate items either written by or about this nurse theorist.
For a contemporary nurse theorist, you may also find useful websites by searching Google or another search engine.  For instance, Kristen M. Swanson is recognized for her middle range theory of caring.  She currently serves as an affiliate professor with the University of Washington’s School of Nursing.  Her faculty bio page at the University of Washington – http://www.son.washington.edu/faculty/faculty_bio.asp?id=103 – provides contact information, a summary of her research interests, and a link to a list of her publications.
For any assistance with searching or obtaining articles, please contact Colonial Library Services by either e-mail: library.colonial@mayo.edu or phone: 507-266-7425 or by stopping up on Plummer 14 from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Friday where we’ll be happy to help you!
Submitted by Dana Gerberi

Entry filed under: What's Your Reference Question?.

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