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How to Locate Your Theorist

The nursing theorist assignments can be difficult if you don't know how to locate the proper subject term.  This page will show you how to find Subject Terms that are associated with your Nursing Theorist.

Subject terms act like hashtags, or indexed categories in the databases.  Articles are tagged with more than one word or phrase to describe the content.  For instance, an article can be tagged as Lung Cancer, Qualitative Studies, Elder Care, Hospice.  

Because of this, it can be difficult to locate an article due to variances in phrasing across different databases.  For instance, one can search for Jean Watson, Jean Watson's Theory, or Theory of Care, but if the database recognizes it as something else, your search will not be as effective as it could be.  Remember, when in Rome...

Follow the steps below to locate the Subject Heading associated with your theorist.

Find Your Theorist

Begin by choosing the CINAHL Headings option at the top of the page.
Type Nursing Models, Theoretical in the resultant box.


The resultant list shows you the relevant words or phrases associated with your query.  Take note of the language used.  It's telling you exactly what phrasing should be used.  Click on Nursing Models, Theoretical.

Here is the list of nursing theories as described by the database (there are more not pictured).  These are the exact phrases the database uses when it categorizes articles.

Click the checkbox to the left of your theory to add it to your search strategy box on the right (not pictured).

From here, you may click Back to Term List in the green bar, and then browse additional terms at the bottom of the page. 

Specific Theory as Framework

You may wish to locate articles locating research that uses your theorist as theoretical framework.  The following steps will help you explore this type of research.

After completing the steps to the left to find your theorist, you need only add in the phrasing for the framework.  In this example, I have begun by checking the box for the Levine Conservation Model and then choosing "Browse Additional Terms" at the bottom of the page.  The CINAHL Headings system has retained that term for us.

Enter the phrase Theoretical Framework.


Just as before, CINAHL has a preferred phrase - in this case "Conceptual Framework."

Click the checkbox and be sure to combine your selections using AND.  

You may now click Search Database to see what articles fit this criteria.


Need an article but unsure which theorist you'd like to use?
Swap out the specific theorist for "Nursing Theory" and hit the checkbox for EXPLODE.  This will be sure to grab every theory/theorist in combination with Conceptual Framework.