Theory of Integral Nursing : Advances in Nursing Science

Table of Contents

Pain management is an important part of the work for healthcare professionals. For various reasons, however, implementing theoretical knowledge on the subject into practice in order to improve nursing care proves to be a challenging task. In the article, Tracy and DiNapoli (2012) introduce the theory of integral nursing, which was developed by Barbara Dossey in 2008, and discuss the possibilities of its application, as well as some challenges that might come along the way.

Purpose of the Article

The primary purpose of the article is to introduce and explore the basic tenets of the Dossey’s theory of integral nursing so that nurses could use the theoretical knowledge to design pain management interventions based on the theory’s communication and relationship-centered approach. The other purpose is to motivate researchers to conduct studies that would test the theory’s concepts of healing in practice. Besides that, the article aims to explore the role of the modern nurse based on the possible application of the theory’s concepts (Tracy & DiNapoli, 2012). Throughout the paper, the authors seem to succeed in achieving all of the stated purposes.


The authors of the article use the qualitative methodology in presenting the theory of integral nursing. They give a very detailed description of all of the aspects of the Dossey’s theory and explain and propose how it should be implemented in practice, especially in pain management. According to Tracy and DiNapoli (2012), those aspects are “healing, recognition of the metaparadigm of nursing, patterns of knowing, quadrants, and all quadrants/all levels (AQUAL)” (p. 27).

Theoretical Framework

Tracy and DiNapoli (2012) describe in detail Barbara Dossey’s holistic theory of integral nursing which is used as a basis for the theoretical framework. The researchers assert that there is a general problem with understanding of the theory related to the pain management process and pain relieving strategies, which discourages nurses from properly engaging with the patients. The authors state that pain is the most common symptom that needs intervention but the nurses are often not fully equipped to deal with it (Tracy & DiNapoli, 2012). In addition, the authors explain how the theory might be implemented in practice.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Article

The article closely examines the Dossey’s theory and all of its aspects. The authors also achieve their stated purpose of the article, which is not only to discuss the theory of integral nursing but to define the role of the nurse in the modern world that has changed in some ways because of the technological progress. However, the article does not provide a lot of references to the studies based on the practical application of the theory.

Clinical Implications

According to the authors, it is the lack of theoretical knowledge that prevents nurses from providing the best care in the area of pain management (Tracy & DiNapoli, 2012). The article provides the needed information. Therefore, it should help the nurses establish better communication with the patients and improve the overall care.

MSN Essentials

There are several Master of Science in Nursing Essentials that should be applied together with the theory of integral nursing. For example, Essential V: Informatics and Healthcare Technologies. The Dossey’s theory deals with the aspect of technology in care, which sometimes can harm the process, rather than improve it. The other one is Essential VII: Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2011). Communication between the patients and the carers is very important in the theory of integral nursing.


Overall, the article succeeds in achieving its stated purpose of introducing and explaining Dossey’s theory. All aspects of it are thoroughly reviewed. A better understanding of that theory should help nurses apply it in practice and provide better care for their patients.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2011). The essentials of Master’s education in nursing. Web.

Tracy, S. M., & DiNapoli, P. P. (2012). Exploring the theory of integral nursing with implications for pain management practice. International Journal for Human Caring, 16(1), 26-33.

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