A conceptual treadmill: the need for 'middle ground' in clinical decision making theory in nursing

J Adv Nurs. 1999 Nov;30(5):1222-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.1999.01186.x.


This paper explores the two predominant theoretical approaches to the process of nurse decision making prevalent within the nursing research literature: systematic-positivistic approaches as exemplified by information processing theory, and the intuitive-humanistic approach of Patricia Benner. The two approaches' strengths and weaknesses are explored and as a result a third theoretical stance is proffered: the idea of a cognitive continuum. According to this approach the systematic and intuitive theoretical camps occupy polar positions at either end of a continuum as opposed to separate theoretical planes. The methodological and professional benefits of adopting such a stance are also briefly outlined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Humanism
  • Humans
  • Intuition
  • Models, Nursing
  • Nursing Diagnosis*
  • Nursing Theory*
  • Semantics