Nursing Theories

Over time, the profession of nursing has greatly evolved. For instance, the profession of nursing has moved from overdependence on full medical directions in respect to provision of basic healthcare to a self-regulating modality profession upholding its own discrete nursing interventions, nursing models, and as well as nursing theories. In respect to nursing theories, a number of nursing scholars have greatly offered their contribution to develop the various nursing theories in existence. Generally, all the various nursing theories are classified into three major or broad nursing theories categories: nursing practices theories, mid-range theories, and grand nursing theories. This paper describes the cognitive dissonance - a mid-range nursing theory developed by Festinger (Masters, 2015). 

            Theoretical nursing basis forms the bases or the foundation for efficient nursing practice. As such, for nurses to be efficient patient educators they need to familiarize themselves with the various nursing theories. Nursing theories offer the necessary framework for nurses to use as tools of addressing patients’ health needs (Bastable, 2006).  This brings us to a deduction that the nurses are able to offer the necessary patient health care interventions by drawing from any of the various nursing theories or from a combination of any appropriate theories in order to achieve the desired patient result. As such, the importance of studying the various nursing theories is to equip the practicing nurse profession with the necessary competencies that will allow him or her make valid and reasonable decisions in respect to addressing the immediate and future health care requirement for his or her patient. Of great importance here pertain the ability of the nurse to offer effective and appropriate education to the patient and his or her family member. Generally, the importance of studying nursing theories for a practicing nurse is to build nursing knowledge. The major idea behind nursing theories is provision of patient education.

            As previously outlined, there are several nursing theories, all of which fall into three broad categories - nursing practices theories, mid-range theories, and grand nursing theories. The Cognitive Dissonance Theory is a mid-range nursing theory that was developed by Festinger in the year 1957. The theory is a social psychology theory. The Cognitive Dissonance Theory specifies that human beings crave for consistency and are willing to implement any necessary change and adaptation in order to regain or achieve consistency (Gruber, 2003). 

            According to Festinger (1957), an individual or a patient for that case experiences cognitive dissonance when he or she encounters inconsistency situations that require a life change. By definition, dissonance refers to a state of discomfort an individual feel after encountering an action that differ from what one believes. A good example of this state of discomfort is experienced by individuals who continue to smoke regardless of knowing it very well that smoking poses irreversible health risks. In such a situation, through cognitive dissonance, the individuals in question may be motivated by this state of discomfort and implement changes in order to regain or achieve consistency with the aim of eliminating the discomfort. According to Festinger (1957), the amount of discomfort caused has no correlation with the ability of the individual to change; As such, the desire to change has to be high and the dissonance caused moderate. Note that, if the latter holds true, the individual in question will explore and give change priority.

            The reason why I selected this theory is because of the distressful or discomfort situations individuals go through in life almost on a daily bases. The theory elaborates on how individuals in life can adapt to positive behavior changes and cope or manage these discomforts or distressful situations in order to live a healthy and productive life. As such, the purpose of this theory is to instill the nursing professionals with the necessary skills and competencies that will enable them educate patients on how to adapt to positive behavior changes once encountered with a stressful situation and bounce back to normal living. 

            To elaborate on Cognitive Dissonance Theory, think of a patient with a hip injury. Such a patient might be faced with several stressors. For instance, think of stressors associated with his or her threatened health and stressors associated with the inevitable changesthat the patient must adapt to after diagnosis. In such a situation, the patient is required to make changes in respect to his attitudes, values, and as well as beliefs in order to regain the desired consistencies in life in his or her entire recovery period. In this respect, the changes might include, mobility restriction, acceptance to be assisted by others, diet change, and among other changes in order to boost the healing process. According to Festinger (1957), the nursing professional offering health care to such a patient is obligated to recognize the patient’s definition and perception of consistency. In addition, the professional nurse is expected to recognize patient’s intimidations to consistency in order to educate the patient effectively while instilling positive changes and at the same time suppressing any negative thoughts that the patients might develop.

            The Cognitive Dissonance Theory views nursing leadership in such a manner that the nursing professionals should act as leaders in respect to addressing patient healthcare needs. As such, a knowledgeable leader who is able to listen, identify, and device an appropriate approach to handle each patient in a unique way depending on the complexity or the simplicity of the situation at hand. In this respect I refer to a real-life practice experience in which I encounter cigarette smokers’ patients. Apart from offering the necessary information on how they should quit smoking and adapt to positive behavior for the sake of their health, I also track their progress and offer further assistance.

            Equally, the Cognitive Dissonance Theory views the nursing education as a profession requiring knowledge and skills in order to handle the varying patients need in a unique manner depending on the complexity or the simplicity of the patients needs. To highlight a real-life practice experience on this view I refer to a number of youths I encounter often requiring services on how to quit drug abuse. I have to admit here that possessing the required knowledge, competencies, and skills on how to approach each case in a unique manner is very important in order to instill the desired positive behavior to the patient.

            Theoretical nursing basis form the bases or the foundation for efficient nursing practice. The Cognitive Dissonance Theory provides the nursing professional with a theoretical framework on how to assist patients deal with distressful or discomfort situations in life affecting or that might be posing treats in their life. As such, a practicing nursing profession ought to gain all the required competences on this theory to aid the recovery process of his or her patient in an effective and professional manner.












Bastable, S. B. (2006).  Essentials of patient education. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Illinois: Stanford University Press.

Gruber, M. (2003). Cognitive dissonance theory and motivation for change. Gastroenterology      Nursing, 26(6), 242-245.

Masters, K. (2015). Nursing theories: A framework for professional practice.