A Theory vs. a Model Distinction in Nursing Research
A theory and a model are important elements in research are they expound on the application of research findings. In nursing, a theory and a model enable nurses to understand the certain phenomenon and apply their knowledge and skills professionally. Despite their common usage, a theory and a model have their differences. A theory is a system of ideas or propositions that elucidate a given phenomenon. According to Udo-Akang, a theory is descriptive, integrative, delimiting, and generative. The theory is descriptive because its function is to describe a given phenomenon. Moreover, a theory is integrative as it consolidates principles, concepts, and constructs with a view of elucidating their relationships. As a theory defines laws, it delimits the applications of constructs, principles, and concepts and ultimately generates research.
Overall, a theory is a system of ideas that describes or elucidates a certain phenomenon in research. In contrast, a model is a practical description that shows how a certain phenomenon happens. In essence, a model is an example of a practical description of a theory. Udo-Akang asserts that models are applicable in illustrating the relationships that exist among variables according to theoretical principles. When researchers need to apply a theory, they create a model, which provides a systematic description of how a theory is applicable in a given scenario. Murphy, Williams, and Pridmore argue that nurses use models in illustrating, visualizing, simulating, and describing how things work with the objective of enhancing the understanding of a complex phenomenon. Given that a theory and a model are inseparable elements of research, their distinction is important because researchers apply both in practice. Researchers make hypotheses and formulate theories, and eventually create models which describe the practical application of theories. Hence, in nursing, theories and models are necessary because they simplify nursing practice and promote the safety of