Contemporary Nursing Knowledge Components


Extensive research that is being carried out in the field of nursing has led to the expansion of knowledge in this field. The time when practitioners had to memorize only a few items for them to be ready for nursing is long gone. Each day comes with a new set of theories on how to deal with certain diseases, patient behavior, and symptom management, only to name a few.

The dynamic nurse is the one who will manage the challenges of the field because it is dynamic too. In this essay, two symptom management theories that were examined in research will be discussed.

The findings of the study will be discussed; the theories will be related to concepts in nursing, and the nursing concepts raised in the research besides the theories will be discussed too. The reasons as to why this article was chosen will be pointed out; the relevance of the concepts discussed in the article to my nursing career will be examined, followed by a brief conclusion.

The Theories Examined In the Article and the Conceptual Model

The two theories that are discussed in the article are based on the premise that symptoms are a critical component of not only nursing but the wider field of medicine and patient handling (Brant, Beck & Miaskowski 2010,pp.228-232). The two theories are the symptom management theory (SMT) and the theory of unpleasant symptoms (TUS) (Hutchinson & Wilson 1998,pp.143-148).

The theory of symptom management deals with the elements of symptoms experienced by patients, the strategies that are used in the management of symptoms by both the patient and the nurses, and the outcomes of the symptoms as they are manifested in the patient. All these elements have a huge implication in the way the general outcome is shaped as far as the patient is concerned.

The theory of unpleasant symptoms posits that there are interactions between symptoms, and these interactions stir more interactions, changes, and outcomes, which have effects on the performance of the patient. The major considerations in this theory include situational factors, psychological factors, and physiological adjustments.

All these three are examined on the basis of how they are triggered by the interactions among symptoms. What were the findings of the research?

The study that was carried out on these two theories resulted in a number of findings. The major findings included: the presence of gaps in explaining the interactions among symptoms and the outcomes that were expected, the absence of consideration of the crucial concept of symptom clusters, and the lack of clarity in pointing out the antecedents in the theory of unpleasant symptoms (Dodd , Miaskowski & Lee 2004,pp.76-78).

The presence of gaps is a sign that the theory is deficient. In this case, the management of symptoms is not likely to be successful if the theory that is being applied does not cater for all areas of the process. In omitting the element of symptom clusters, the ability to examine relationships that exist in some symptoms is lost.

This makes it hard to understand the symptoms that trigger others and the ones that are likely to emerge after a first or second set has been observed in a patient. This complicates the management of symptoms. The last deficiency that was observed in the research, as pointed out in the findings of the study is the lack of clarity on the area of antecedents.

Antecedents are said to be affecting symptoms leading to an effect on the performance of a subject, which in this case is the patient. The performance that is affected further affects both antecedents and symptoms.

The physiological elements, situational elements, and physiological elements are pointed out as antecedent categories with performance seen as the sole outcome. But there are no clear definitions of antecedent parameters that the theory of unpleasant symptoms comes up with.

The conceptual model

The conceptual model that is tied to the theories discussed above has three root elements that are part of the overall symptom experience. These three elements are the antecedents, which in this case are demographic factors such as age, gender, race and culture, the symptom experience, and symptom perception.

The antecedents present the symptom experience, which results in symptom perception by the patient.Perceptions are either situational or existential (Brant, Beck & Miaskowski 2010, p.232). This conceptual model has the elements of both the two theories discussed above. What is the relationship between the findings of the study to nursing concepts?

Nursing is as a profession is rooted in inpatient care. This form of care has its basis in the proper comprehension of symptoms. Therefore these two theories and the findings are quite relevant to nursing in the sense that the shortcomings of these theories indicate a loophole that needs to be sealed with knowledge so that nursing in general and symptom management, in particular, is handled properly.

Nurses cannot be in a position to deal with patients well if they are not aware of symptom interactions and symptom clusters. This is because the knowledge of clusters of observable symptoms of a given disease will be easy to identify whenever they are observed, and predictions can be made what is possible as far as the patient who has shown certain symptoms is concerned.

For example, a simple case of the clustering of symptoms can be when a group of symptoms is known to manifest in a patient who has contracted a certain disease.

It such a patient shows three of the possible seven symptoms, the caretakers can expect the other symptoms to manifest too, and therefore it will be easy to deal with them since they will have had a chance to prepare in advance. But with these theories not covering these areas well, this is not likely to be possible. What are the other nursing concepts discussed in the article?

The other nursing concepts that are discussed in the article, in addition to the theories discussed above, include the symptoms experience model and the symptoms experienced in time (Henly, Kallas, Klatt & Swenson 2003,pp.410-415). These two are discussed alongside the two theories as to potential tools for nurses in symptom management.

The symptom experience model deals with the way symptoms interact to influence outcomes while the symptom experience in time deals with the effect of time in the behavior of symptoms. There is also a discussion of the criterion for the evaluation of theories and models that are used in nursing, such as the ones discussed in this essay. Why did I choose this article?

I chose this article because it deals with a very crucial area in nursing. Symptom management is a wide and vital area in nursing that needs to be understood by all professional nurses. The fact that the available theories are deficient is a great motivation for me to bring the topic up for discussion. I also found the article straight forward, and the findings of the study well presented. Is the information covered here relevant to my nursing practice?

The concepts discussed above are very relevant to my career as a nurse. It is necessary that I understand the symptoms of certain medical conditions so that I can know how to deal with them.

For example, it is important for me to identify the symptoms of stroke so that when I see a patient with those symptoms, I can take the necessary action. This is also true if there are groups of symptoms expected for a given condition whereby it is easy to know what to expect after seeing one symptom.

In conclusion, the symptom management theory and the theory of unpleasant symptoms are deficient. For proper symptom management, these unclear areas, which include symptom clusters and antecedent definitions, have to be researched on and the gaps filled.


Brant J.M., Beck S. & Miaskowski C. (2010). Building Dynamic Models and Theories to Advance the Science of Symptom Management Research. Journal of Advanced Nursing 66(1), 228–240.

Dodd M.J., Miaskowski C. & Lee K.A. (2004). Occurrence of Symptom Clusters. Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs 32, 76–78.

Henly S.J., Kallas K.D., Klatt C.M. & Swenson K.K. (2003). The Notion of Time in Symptom Experiences. Nursing Research 52, 410–417.

Hutchinson S. & Wilson H. (1998). The Theory Of Unpleasant Symptoms And Alzheimer’s Disease. Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice 12, 143–158.

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