Theory of Goal Attainment in Nursing

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 2
Words: 505
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College

According to Imogene King, nurses are supposed to attain, maintain, and regain a healthy state of the patient. Theory of goal Attainment discusses how the main goals of a client are achieved through nurse-patient interaction and are based on her own nursing philosophy and experience. Born on January 30, 1923, in West Point, Iowa, King he was a pioneer nurse famous for developing her own theory in nursing. According to Dewey (2018), “after receiving a diploma in nursing from St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis, Missouri,” she worked on different nursing positions (p. 2). This paper will discuss the main propositions and assumptions made by King and the theory’s role in modern nursing.

King’s theory was developed in the early 60s and described a nurse’s relationship with the patient. Promoting such a dynamic relationship helped patients to grow and achieve specific life goals. According to Potter and Perry (2017), nurses use Imogene King’s theory when they need to encourage their patients to set goals for their recovery. The theory gives four different factors that affect the attainment of goals, which are time, space, stress, and roles (Adib-Hajbaghery & Tahmouresi, 2018). The model in which King’s theory works includes three systems of interaction: personal, interpersonal, and social.

A number of propositions and assumptions were made in King’s Theory of Goal Attainment. King assumes that the main focus of a nurse should be the care of patients not only as individuals but as groups as well. She also presumes that human beings are social animals that act with constant interaction with an environment. The examples of suggestions in King’s theory given by the researchers are:

  • If the nurse and the patient establish a transaction, goals will be achieved.
  • If role expectations and performance from both the patient and the nurse are coincident, the transaction will take place.
  • If role conflict is experienced by any of the members of interaction, stress will occur.
  • Mutual goal-setting and achievement will occur if a nurse with specialized knowledge communicates and gives appropriate information to the patient (Adib-Hajbaghery & Tahmouresi, 2018).

According to McQueen, Cockroft, and Mullins (2017), Imogene King’s theory is an essential tool in mentoring a future nurse, and in order to further the role of nurses in healthcare, nurse educators should also be included “in the discussion that connects goal achievement and students’ integration” (p. 225). This theory is applicable to the modern generation because it explains the role and importance of stress, communication, growth, and personal space both in work and personal life.

While developed in the early 1960s, King’s theory is still a vital and relatable model of goal attainment for nurses and nurse educators. The millennial generation is very different from the people who lived long before them. One of their main features is their goal orientation, and that is why King’s theory works for modern nurse educators. The theory helps future nurses to develop knowledge-focused thinking patterns and decision-making skills to fully concentrate on patients and their needs.


Adib-Hajbaghery, M., & Tahmouresi, M. (2018). Nurse–patient relationship based on the Imogene Kings theory of goal attainment. Nursing and Midwifery Studies, 7(3), 141. Web.

Dewey, J,. PhD. (2018). Imogene King. Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia.

McQueen, L., Cockroft, M., & Mullins, N. (2017). Imogene Kings theory of goal attainment and the millennial nurse: An important mentoring tool for nurse educators. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 12(3), 223–225. Web.

Potter, P. A., & Perry, A. G. (2017). Fundamentals of nursing. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.