Interdisciplinary Theory in Nursing

Nurses need a strong scientific knowledge base from nursing and other disciplines such as behavioral, social, and physical sciences to practice in today’s health care systems. Knowledge from other disciplines entails relevant theories which explain phenomena.

An interdisciplinary theory explains a systematic perspective of an occurrence specific to the discipline of inquiry. Interdisciplinary theories are used to help nurses understand the metaparadigm of nursing in the rapidly changing modern environment.

The metaparadigm of nursing provides a holistic approach to care. The metaparadigm takes into consideration the person, their health, their environment, and the practice of nursing.

Interdisciplinary nursing practice integrates theories, concepts, tools, methods, data and information from two or more disciplines.

Interdisciplinary means that two or more disciplines (sociology, psychology, medicine, and others) align theories in research, practice, or educational endeavors.

The key defining concept of interdisciplinarity is incorporation, an amalgamation of diverse inputs that differ form and is more than the sum of the parts.

In interdisciplinary practice, nurses can draw on multiple, integrated evidence-based practice generated through the use of interdisciplinary methods and interdisciplinary theory.

This helps nurses to familiarize themselves with a wide array of other disciplines’ theories that guide patient care. While these theories are shared across disciplines and are complementary to each other, the uniqueness of each discipline is preserved.

Purpose of Interdisciplinary Theories in Nursing

There has been a plethora of incentives for more interdisciplinary nursing research and practice internationally in recent years. Ideally, major societal problems, in health or otherwise do not come in neat uni-disciplinary packages.

Rather, they are best addressed by professionals and researchers from different professions examining the issues from  diverse perspectives.

Different disciplines adopted in nursing can be compared to individual tribes inhabiting adjacent islands in the same part of an ocean. Each tribe has evolved a different culture, different ways of doing things, and different language to explain what they do.

The inhabitants of one island acknowledge those on another one from time to time and get excited about a new discovery or practice.

However, since they don’t understand it, they tend to ignore it and maintain their isolation. Such disciplinary apartheid and narrow focus has been beneficial for some more conventional professions but not for scientific disciplines. 

While interdisciplinary theories have been considered helpful in nursing, there is also the view that nurses need a body of knowledge that is unique to nursing.

It suggests that shared or borrowed knowledge from established disciplines is only useful if it promotes nursing as a profession. If this perspective is promoted, then interdisciplinary practice and research would be considered as a distraction to the development of a distinct nursing knowledge base.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Nursing

An interdisciplinary approach in nursing entails professionals from different disciplines applying interdisciplinary theories while collaboratively working with a shared purpose to set goal, share responsibilities and resources, and make decisions regarding care.

For instance, a team of clinicians from various disciplines work with the patient through the care process which involves assessing, diagnosing, setting goals, and developing a care plan.

The patient, their carers and family are also involved in any conversations about their condition, prognosis, and care plan. An interdisciplinary approach to nursing is key since patients present with different diagnoses and also have complex and multiple needs that need incorporation of interdisciplinary concepts and theories to deal with complex multimorbidity, psychological, and social issues.

The best possible outcomes for patients, especially those with multiple conditions are attained through a consultative, collaborative approach to care that actively involves an interdisciplinary team, the patient, and his or her family/carers.

Example of the Use of Interdisciplinary Theories in Nursing

A study was conducted to demonstrate how different theories can be used to enhance the nurses’ understanding of Aboriginal women’s mental health.

The idea was to use theoretical frameworks, comprehend, explain, and describe the mental health of these women stemming from historical marginalization, provide guidance to practicing nurses as they identify environmental and social problems, establish the best practices, and assess health and distress.

In this case, the Parse human becoming theory (nursing theory) was used to enhance the nurses understanding of the patient’s ability to comprehend her condition.

The ecological systems theory (developmental psychology theory) and critical social theory (sociology theory) was used to remind the nurses to challenge their own assumptions and practices, and establish a comprehensive framework to confront the westernized protocols and practices that may be keen on maintaining the status quo within health services.

These theories were used to shape understanding, ideas, and give insights which collectively offer guidance on re-conceptualization of wellness, supporting self-efficacy, and working against oppression.

Adopting interdisciplinary theory to practice enables nurses to look beyond the patient’s presenting symptoms and signs and further engage the environmental and cultural means related to the condition.

Interdisciplinary theory challenges mental health nurses to explore traditions, habits, and rules and how they affect a patient’s mental health.

For Aboriginal women with mental health issues, the ultimate goal is not only to treat the signs and symptoms but also to examine their social realities and minimize their inequities. Read more on custom nursing papers, windshield survey community assessment, EHR System Adoption, Annotated Bibliography Topics, Letter of intent, and accelerated nursing programs.

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