List of Borrowed Non-Nursing Theories Used in Healthcare

Written by Brandon L.
August 17, 202312 min read

Nursing as a science combines solid knowledge from social, natural, physical, and behavioral sciences to facilitate safe and efficient nursing practice.

Nurses apply theories in their day-to-day practice, some of which might be influenced by theories developed in other disciplines other than nursing, including psychology, education, and other fields.

These theories form the foundation for nursing care planning, interventions, and health promotion. As a nursing student, it is necessary to understand the non-nursing theories, otherwise referred to as borrowed nursing theories.

We already have an in-depth article that details the list of nursing theorists and nursing theories that can come in handy when writing a nursing theory paper. However, to develop applicable nursing models, you sometimes need borrowed theories.

Our team at NurseMyGrade has compiled information about non-nursing theories to help you understand and apply these theories from the point of knowledge. There are many ways of knowing in nursing, including ethics (a component of moral knowledge in nursing), empirics (the science of nursing), esthetics (the art of nursing), and a component of personal knowledge in nursing, which is fortified by knowledge of non-nursing theories. 

What is a Borrowed Nursing Theory?

A borrowed nursing theory, otherwise referred to as a non-nursing theory, refers to theories initially developed to be applied or help explain processes that are not nursing based but related to nursing. Such theories help organize, describe, explain, analyze, and understand nursing care or practice aspects. They are theories applied initially to psychology, physiology, sociology, medicine and health, physics, and organizational studies.

Non-nursing theories are integrated into nursing theories to ensure that nurses deliver quality care. These theories can be used to explain different nursing systems, practices, and behavior. As a nursing student, you need to understand non-nursing theories because they are used to develop essential nursing models that influence your practice.

Examples of borrowed or non-nursing theories include Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, systems theory, systems thinking, Erikson's Psychosocial Theory, Kurt Lewin's Change Theory, Paul's Critical thinking theory, and Rosenstock's Health Belief Model.

Borrowed Theories or Non-Nursing Theories Explored/Explained

There are different non-nursing theories that you can apply in nursing practice and nursing patient scenarios or practice. The borrowed nursing theories include:

  1. Maslow's Hierarchy Theory
  2. Erikson's Psychosocial Theory
  3. Lewin's Change Theory
  4. Paul's Critical Thinking Theory
  5. Rosenstock's Health Belief Model
  6. Systems Theory
  7. Systems Thinking

Let us explore these non-nursing theories and theorists so that you can understand how, when, and where to apply them as you study and later practice nursing.

Related: How to write a personal nursing philosophy assignment.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Abraham Maslow developed Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory as a psychology theory that explains humans' motivation to pursue different levels of needs. The Theory postulates that humans are motivated to fulfill their needs hierarchically, beginning from the most basic needs as they advance to complex needs. According to Abraham Maslow, the ultimate goal is to achieve the highest level in the hierarchy of needs, otherwise called self-actualization.

The advancing format includes psychological safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The first four needs are referred to as deficiency, while self-actualization is considered growth.

Psychological needs are the most basic human needs, including food, shelter, warmth, rest, and health, driven by survival instinct.

Safety needs, otherwise called security, relate to being safe and secure in life and our surroundings. The motivation derives from the need for low order and protection from dangers, risky, and unpredictable conditions.

Love and belongingness needs are on the third level, including friendships, intimacy, family, and love. Esteem needs relate to the need to be recognized, praised, have status, and be respected. 

Finally, self-actualization needs relate to reaching full potential through pursuing life dreams, seeking happiness, using skills, talents, and abilities, continuing education, and obtaining different skills.

In nursing, the theory can be applied in providing patient-centered care and prioritizing nursing diagnoses and interventions based on the values and needs of the patients.

General Systems Theory

Systems theory is attributed to Austrian Biologist Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy, thanks to his seminal work in 1969 that has since been known as the General Systems Theory. The Theory postulates that systems cannot be reduced to a series of parts functioning in isolation but can be understood holistically through interrelations between the parts that make a system. Within the healthcare system or profession,

In the context of nursing, the Theory has helped develop other nursing theories such as Roy's adaptation model, the Theory of goal attainment by Imogene King, the Behavior Systems model by Johnson, the Theory of Unitary Human Beings by Rogers, and the Systems Theory by Betty Neuman.

According to the theory, systems are self-regulated, self-correcting through feedback, and are a generalization of reality. The systems function similarly and are defined by the parts and processes. The Theory also perceived living organisms as open systems.

Generally, how well the healthcare system is structured helps nurses define the safety and health of the patients. A healthcare system must dedicatedly improve the lives of patients.

General Systems Theory is also known by other names such as systems theory, Theory of open systems, systems model, and family systems Theory. It emphasizes the relationships between parts and describes how the parts function.

Erikson's Psychological Theory

This Theory was developed in 1968 by Erik Erickson, a psychologist. It is a psychosocial theory of development and socialization based on individuals' interaction and learning about their world.

The psychosocial theory concepts can be applied by nurses and nurse students in caring for patients at different stages of life.

Nurses who understand the Theory can allow children in different stages to engage in different activities. Besides, it also helps to create a calm and welcoming environment for kids of different ages.

Lewin's Change Theory

Nursing is a constantly evolving profession. As a science, many changes are bound to happen in the procedures, behavior, and systems. Kurt Lewin's change theory, developed in 1951, has a widespread application in nursing.

According to the Theory, change occurs in three steps or stages: unfreezing, freezing, and refreezing. During the unfreezing stage, changing one's mindset and systems becomes inevitable. It entails creating fertile grounds for change, including overcoming resistance to change.

The next step, the freezing stage, entails implementing the change. In step 3, refreezing occurs, which entails assessing and evaluating the change and making the change part of the system. It entails making policies, coming up with standards, standard operation procedures, and steps to handle matters.

Critical Thinking Theory

Paul-Elder's critical thinking framework was developed in 1993. According to Paul, critical thinking is an intellectual discipline that focuses on the active and skillful conceptualization, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of information generated through observation.

Nurses can apply the model as a guide for team communication, implementing care plans, developing action plans, analyzing policies and laws, and analyzing assessment data.

A nurse can perform a head-to-toe assessment and determine the actions needed to improve the quality of care of a patient.

Nurses also use the Theory when researching so that they can disseminate their research findings. You can also apply the Theory when writing various nursing papers and assignments.

The model's constructs include elements of thought or reasoning, intellectual standards, and intellectual traits.

Health Belief Model

Rosenstock developed the Health belief model in 1974. It is a psychological health benefit model. The health belief model (HBM) is a theoretical model that deals primarily with health decision-making. It explains the conditions under which a person will engage in individual health behaviors such as preventive screenings or seeking treatment for a given health condition.

 Initially, action is likely if the person perceives themselves as susceptible to or is at risk for a certain condition. 

For instance, if a patient has been smoking and feels like they have symptoms of COPD, they are likely to seek medical care because they understand that smoking is a risk factor. The same applies to an individual whose family has a history of breast cancer, and they are likely to pursue screening or mammograms annually because their genetic makeup predisposes them to develop breast cancer.

The likelihood of a given action depends on how seriously an individual/client/patient perceives the condition.

The seriousness of a condition can be measured or judged based on subjective factors such as emotional arousal due to thinking about the condition or the anticipated social, physical, spiritual, and psychological consequences. The constructs of the HBM theory include perceived susceptibility, severity, benefits, barriers, cues of action, and self-efficacy.

Nurses and nursing students can use this theoretical model to induce certain health behaviors through individual and community health promotion programs.

It also forms the core of patient teaching and educational plans for nurses. It explicitly helps nurses work together with patients to develop programs and strategies that can assist them in replacing their unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones.

To this end, we have covered non-nursing theories relevant to the nursing discipline and profession. If the debate about nursing vs. non-nursing theories arises, you are better placed to give a comprehensive answer.

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Parting Shot!

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