The systematic accumulation of knowledge is essential to progress in any profession. Nevertheless, theory and practice must be constantly interactive… As such, theory without practice is empty… …and practice without [models, conceptual frameworks, and] theories is blind… (Cross, 1981, Alligood and Tomey, 2006 as cited in p. 3)
As each one of us may agree, the terms models, theories, and conceptual frameworks are often perceived as having the same meaning and purpose. Nonetheless, the aforesaid terms have respective definitions that make each term distinct from one another. As such, the following are the definitions, as obtained and quoted from Alligood and Tomey’s Nursing Theory: Utilization and Application (2006):
Models are frameworks to guide thinking about nursing, at the same time, are structures that guide research and practice. (p. 22).
Theories are another type of theoretical work in the structure of nursing knowledge. They are sets of related concepts that propose something that is testable. (p. 55).
Conceptual frameworks provide a comprehensive view and perspective for nursing practice. They are broad conceptual structures that provide a holistic view of nursing. They are organizing frameworks that guide decision making with critical thinking in the processes of nursing. (p. 48).
As we can fairly observe in the above definitions, the three terms have significant commonalities, which are as follows:
Models, theories, and conceptual frameworks encompass relevant body of knowledge and important concepts in a certain profession like nursing.
Models, theories, and conceptual frameworks are theoretical works that exemplify a comprehensive perspective of the nursing profession.
Models, theories, and conceptual frameworks guide nurses in their actions, decision making and critical thinking.
Models, theories, and conceptual frameworks also serve as valuable guides in nursing research.
Most importantly, models, theories, and conceptual frameworks share one common purpose, which is their ultimate commonality— TO GUIDE THE PRACTICE OF NURSING.
Consequently, the definitions obtained from a reputable reference typified our understanding about models, theories, and conceptual frameworks. Eventually, those definitions exemplified the commonalities between the aforementioned terms. Hence, these three terms share one ultimate commonality and purpose, that is, to guide the practice of nursing of as a profession.
Alligood, M. R., & Tomey, A. M. (2006). Nursing Theory: Utilization and Application. Third Edition. St. Louis: Mosby.