Nursing Conceptual Model vs. Nursing Theory

The efficiency of nursing practice is explicitly correlated with the theoretical foundation that defines the nurses’ potential course of action. However, the approaches to the research framework differ in terms of the data available and the desired outcome. Researchers primarily differentiate between a nursing conceptual model and a nursing theory as some of the most widespread in the sphere. Hence, it is of crucial importance to define both these notions in order to identify the difference.

The major idea of a conceptual framework in nursing is closely associated with the process of defining the patterns of the concept operating in order to justify the use of a certain theory. Researchers define the conceptual model as a qualitative tool that develops a blueprint for interaction between chosen variables and concepts leading to the expected outcome (Mastal, 2018). Nursing theory, on the other hand, stands for the process of justifying an abstract phenomenon correlated with the nursing concepts. Hence, the nursing theory may be perceived as a more systematic representation of a phenomenon, whereas the connection between the concepts represented in a conceptual model remains predominantly qualitative.

A prime example of a nursing theory is Dorothea Orem’s self-care deficit theory. According to Orem, patients require nursing assistance because they are incapable of providing themselves with self-care to an exhaustive extent (Gligor & Domnariu, 2020). Hence, it means that the nurse’s primary responsibility is to evaluate the basic conditioning factors of a patient such as age, gender, socio-cultural peculiarities, and health condition in order to define a proper intervention means. For example, in the context of palliative care, patients are unable to satisfy some of the basic human needs such as nutrition while requiring pain management, medical surveillance, and medication administration. Hence, the self-care deficit theory justifies the nurses’ actions in terms of patient care aimed at creating a satisfying environment.


Gligor, L., & Domnariu, C. D. (2020). Patient care approach using nursing theories-comparative analysis of Orem’s self-care deficit theory and Henderson’s model. Acta Medica Transilvanica, 25(2), 11-14. Web.

Mastal, M. (2018). Evolution of a conceptual model: Ambulatory care nursing. Nursing Economics, 36(6), 296-303.