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Posted: February 12th, 2024
Nursing Knowledge and Application
Knowledge is a key component of nursing practice and the nursing profession. Nursing knowledge encompasses theoretical and empirical knowledge that is used to guide clinical decision making and improve patient outcomes. This paper will explore the concept of nursing knowledge, its components, and how it relates to Fawcett’s theory that knowledge as a component of the sociocultural orientation basic conditioning factor enhances prevention of hazards. Examples will be provided to illustrate how knowledge can be applied in nursing practice to reduce risks and prevent adverse events.
Defining Nursing Knowledge
Nursing knowledge refers to the body of information that is unique to the nursing discipline. It includes theoretical knowledge from nursing theories and frameworks, as well as empirical knowledge gained through research and clinical experience (Chinn & Kramer, 2017). Nursing knowledge is composed of five main components: conceptual models, metaparadigm concepts, philosophy, empirical indicators, and propositions (Chinn & Kramer, 2017).
Conceptual models provide structure and organization to nursing knowledge. They define key concepts and how they relate to one another. Metaparadigm concepts represent the broad perspectives or domains of nursing which include person, health, environment, and nursing. Philosophy articulates nursing’s purpose and worldview. Empirical indicators allow concepts to be measured and tested. And propositions specify relationships between concepts (Chinn & Kramer, 2017). Together, these components form the body of nursing knowledge that guides practice.
One influential nursing theory is Jacqueline Fawcett’s “Knowledge as a component of the sociocultural orientation basic conditioning factor enhances prevention of hazards” theory. Fawcett identified basic conditioning factors (BCFs) as internal or external circumstances that influence a person’s response to health conditions (Fawcett, 2005). One BCF is sociocultural orientation, which includes knowledge, beliefs, values and attitudes. Fawcett proposed that knowledge as a component of sociocultural orientation enhances the ability to prevent hazards and promote wellness (Fawcett, 2005).
In other words, greater knowledge allows individuals to better understand risks and take actions to avoid harm. This theory emphasizes the role of knowledge in empowering patients, families, nurses and other healthcare providers to make informed decisions and engage in health-promoting behaviors. When knowledge deficits exist, the potential for adverse events increases. Therefore, expanding knowledge through education can help reduce risks and optimize outcomes according to Fawcett’s theory.
Application in Practice
Fawcett’s theory has many practical applications in nursing. One area is fall prevention in the elderly population. Falls are a major health issue for older adults that often result from hazards in the home environment like loose rugs or poor lighting (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). However, educating elderly patients and their families about common fall risks and safety strategies can enhance their knowledge as a BCF.
With greater awareness, simple modifications can be made to the home. For example, securing rugs with double-sided tape or removing throw rugs altogether reduces tripping hazards. Improving lighting in stairways and other areas used at night also decreases fall risk. Post-fall education reinforces safety behaviors and problem-solving skills to prevent recurrences. Tracking falls data pre-and post-education allows the impact of knowledge interventions to be measured empirically through a reduction in falls.
Another application is medication safety. Knowledge deficits among patients can lead to medication errors like taking the wrong dose, missing doses, or dangerous drug interactions (Institute for Safe Medication Practices, 2018). However, ensuring patients understand their medication regimen through counseling, written instructions and confirmation of understanding has been shown to improve adherence and reduce errors. Nurses play a key role in verifying patient comprehension and reinforcing education. Monitoring medication incident reports before and after teaching interventions provides measurable evidence of knowledge’s influence.
In critical care, validated pain assessment tools like the Critical-Care Pain Observation Tool (CPOT) rely on nurses’ knowledge to accurately detect pain in nonverbal patients (Gélinas et al., 2018). However, inadequate staff education on tool use can compromise pain management. Targeted training on the CPOT increases nurses’ assessment skills and standardizes documentation. Comparing pain scores and interventions pre-and post-education demonstrates how improving knowledge among healthcare providers directly benefits patient outcomes.
In summary, knowledge is a core component of nursing practice and the discipline of nursing. Fawcett’s theory highlights the importance of knowledge as a basic conditioning factor that enhances individuals’ ability to prevent hazards and promote wellness. By applying theoretical knowledge in clinical practice through patient education, staff training and outcome measurement, nurses can expand knowledge and empower patients to reduce risks. Ongoing research and quality improvement initiatives are needed to further develop the science of nursing knowledge and its impact on safety, quality and health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Important facts about falls. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
Chinn, P. L., & Kramer, M. K. (2017). Knowledge development in nursing: Theory and process (10th ed.). Elsevier.
Fawcett, J. (2005). Contemporary nursing knowledge: Analysis and evaluation of nursing models and theories (2nd ed.). F. A. Davis.
Gélinas, C., Fillion, L., Puntillo, K. A., Viens, C., & Fortier, M. (2006). Validation of the critical-care pain observation tool in adult patients. American Journal of Critical Care, 15(4), 420–427. https://doi.org/10.4037/ajcc2006.15.4.420
Institute for Safe Medication Practices. (2018). Medication errors. https://www.ismp.org/resources/error-proofing-strategies-over-counter-medications
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