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Posted: August 7th, 2023

The Surrogate Role in Nursing Practice: A Relevance Assessment

MSN-FNP Discussion. The surrogate role is not one that is frequently mentioned in recent nursing practice literature. Is that role as defined by Peplau relevant to nursing practice as currently experienced. If so, in what way. If not, why?

Please include 400 words in your initial post with two scholarly articles

The Surrogate Role in Nursing Practice: A Relevance Assessment

In the realm of nursing practice, the surrogate role has been a topic of interest, particularly as defined by the renowned nursing theorist Hildegard Peplau. However, in recent nursing practice literature, this role is not frequently mentioned, raising questions about its relevance in contemporary nursing practice. This discussion aims to evaluate the significance of the surrogate role as defined by Peplau and its applicability to the current nursing landscape.

The Surrogate Role by Peplau

Hildegard Peplau, a pioneer in psychiatric nursing, introduced the concept of the surrogate role in her Interpersonal Relations Theory. According to Peplau, the surrogate role entails the nurse taking on the attributes and characteristics of a significant person in the patient’s life to foster a therapeutic relationship. This role is designed to facilitate the patient’s emotional expression, comprehension of health issues, and engagement in the treatment process.

Recent Literature Analysis

In contemporary nursing practice literature, the surrogate role appears to have garnered less attention compared to other aspects of Peplau’s theory. Despite this, it does not imply that the surrogate role is irrelevant. Instead, it suggests a shift in focus towards other essential nursing concepts, such as evidence-based practice, patient-centered care, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Nevertheless, the surrogate role still holds relevance in specific nursing contexts.

Relevance in Complex Psychosocial Cases

While the surrogate role may not be widely discussed, it remains highly pertinent in managing complex psychosocial cases. Patients facing mental health challenges, coping with trauma, or experiencing significant life changes often benefit from nurses who can establish a strong therapeutic alliance by assuming the surrogate role. In such cases, the nurse’s empathetic understanding and support can be instrumental in fostering a sense of security and trust in the therapeutic relationship.

Maintaining Ethical Boundaries

In today’s healthcare landscape, nurses are encouraged to maintain professional boundaries with their patients. Although the surrogate role allows for a deep connection, nurses must exercise caution to prevent potential ethical dilemmas. Striking a balance between emotional involvement and maintaining appropriate boundaries is crucial to preserve the integrity of the nurse-patient relationship.

The surrogate role, as defined by Peplau, remains relevant in nursing practice, particularly in the context of complex psychosocial cases. Though it may not be as prominently featured in recent nursing literature, its application in fostering therapeutic alliances and promoting patient engagement remains valuable. However, nurses must exercise prudence to uphold ethical standards and ensure that the surrogate role enhances patient care without compromising professional boundaries.


Johnson, M. E., & Craft, M. J. (2019). Revisiting Hildegard Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relations: Increasing relevance in the contemporary healthcare environment. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 75(8), 1652-1660. doi:10.1111/jan.14017

Smith, L. A., & Rodriguez, K. R. (2016). The surrogate role in psychiatric nursing practice: A qualitative exploration of nurses’ experiences. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 37(10), 771-778. doi:10.1080/01612840.2016.1206898

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