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Situation-Specific Theories: Philosophical Roots, Properties, and Approach

Im, Eun-Ok, RN, MPH, PhD; Meleis, Afaf Ibrahim, PhD, DrPS (hon), FAAN

Global Health and Nursing Practice
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It is imperative to further develop theoretical bases in nursing, which incorporate diversities and complexities in nursing phenomena, and which consider sociopolitical, cultural, and historic contexts of nursing encounters. Situation-specific theories are proposed in this work as a future direction of such theoretical bases in nursing. Philosophical roots and properties of situation-specific theories are discussed, and an integrative approach to developing this type of theories is suggested. Situation-specific theories could be based on the assumptions of post-empiricism, critical social theory and feminism, and or hermeneutics. Six properties of situation-specific theories are presented: (1) low level of abstraction, (2) reflection of specific nursing phenomena, (3) context, (4) connection to research and/or practice, (5) incorporation of diversities, and (6) limits in generalization. The proposed integrative approach to developing situation-specific theories includes (1) a nursing perspective, (2) a linkage among theory, research, and practice, and (3) a conceptual scheme based on internal and external dialogues.

Assistant Professor; Department of Health Maintenance, School of Nursing; University of Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Im)

Professor; Department of Community Health Systems; University of California; San Francisco, California (Meleis)

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