Background: Nursing theory should provide the principles that underpin practice and help to generate further nursing knowledge. However, a lack of agreement in the professional literature on nursing theory confuses nurses and has caused many to dismiss nursing theory as irrelevant to practice. This article aims to identify why nursing theory is important in practice.
Conclusion: By giving nurses a sense of identity, nursing theory can help patients, managers and other healthcare professionals to recognise the unique contribution that nurses make to the healthcare service (Draper 1990). Providing a definition of nursing theory also helps nurses to understand their purpose and role in the healthcare setting.