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The holistic view of the human being (i.e. The patient) and the environment is in some ways an echo of the holistic nature of the theory itself, which quite consciously and explicitly attempted to develop a theory appropriate to all aspects and situations of nursing. Because the Science of Unitary Human Beings was developed essentially from the ground up in such a conscious and comprehensive manner, it would be practically impossible for internal inconsistencies to exist.
Just as the scope of Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings is difficult to overstate, it is equally difficult to overestimate the impact that this theory has had on the field of nursing. Its contributions to both nursing practice and scholarship have been enormous, and as the theory continues to evolve and develop under the guidance of new scholars and practitioners its significance only grows (Butcher 2008). Rogers was not the first to assert the need for an independent nursing science, of course, nor is she either the earliest or the most recent to attempt developing such a theory, but her concepts in the field of nursing practice and research have found a great deal of resonance in subsequent nursing students and teachers -- as well as with nurses themselves, of course -- to the point that many refer not even explicitly to the Science of Unitary Human Beings, but to "Rogerian" science.
This, however, is just the measure of the theory's significance, and does not really elucidate the specific theoretical significance in the study and practice of nursing. The case study briefly outline above clearly demonstrates the fundamental perspective shift that this theory demands of practicing nurses, which is certainly a significant area of impact (Farren 2009). In the field of scholarship, this perspective can also be seen to apply, and the basic metaparadigm concepts of the Science of Unitary Human Beings has been used to derive certain methods and measures by which the body of knowledge in nursing as a specific and distinct field of medicine can be added to objectively and independently (Malinski 2008).
The changes in the practice of the nursing profession necessarily create changes in patient care. One of the most essential and pervasive of these is the standardization of nursing language across disciplines, which not only is a measure and method for creating a unique and definitive science and knowledge base that is "nursing" and not some other field of science or knowledge, but also allows for easier and more complete communication between the patient and the nurse, as well among nurses and between nurses and other care providers (Farren 2009). The general perspective of the Science of Unitary Human Beings also fundamentally affects the way care is provided, as no disease or condition can ever be effectively treated (according to the tenets of the theory) as an isolated or discrete phenomenon, but rather the entire person or energy field must be treated.
This can be extrapolated quite easily and applied to global communities and systems. The metaparadigm of the environment explicitly contains anything and everything that is not a specified human beings, and health is seen as a product of the interactions between the human energy field and the environmental energy field -- that is, with everything else in the world (Masters 2005). Obviously, the nurse cannot practically speaking change global issues in order to promote health, but an understanding of the environmental forces at work -- including issues in the global community and economy -- must be taken into consideration when approaching the provision of care to patients. In addition, the global system is perhaps best viewed with the same sort of holistic framework that human beings and the environment are addressed within the Science of Unitary Human Beings.
Parsimony and Testability
For a theory so far reaching and ultimately complex and cohesive in its application to both practice and scholarship in the field of nursing, there is a great deal of parsimony in Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings. It can be very concisely stated and described without losing any of its essential meaning, and it is certainly exclusive of many other perspectives, world views, and theories. The theory's comprehensiveness in the context of the purposeful originality of its design all but guarantee this parsimonious quality; Rogers developed the Science of Unitary Human Beings from the ground up and ensured that it covered all possible areas of nursing theory, scholarship, and practice, and thus it stands as a well-defined and clearly rendered -- i.e. concise and constructive -- grand theory of nursing. This is what has maintained its high degree of relevance and efficacy despite the rapidly changing technological world and its effects on the delivery of healthcare.
Testability is rather difficult with this theory in an empirical or objective sense given its high level of abstraction. The theory has been shown to be quite effective in application, but this can only be stated as an association (not necessarily a causal relationship), and therefore it is difficult if not impossible to test the actual propositions made by the theory for empirical truth (Farren 2009). The high level of abstraction in the Science of Unitary Human Beings is what allows it to be so comprehensive, but it also prevents its testability. Regardless, the theoretical framework remains a viable approach to nursing.
Especially given the level of abstraction inherent to the theory, it is not surprising that Rogers was outspokenly against many forms of quantitative assessment, though she also stressed that both quantitative and qualitative methods were appropriate at different times and in different ways (Malinski 2008). The holistic and almost inherently subjective approach to nursing provided by the Science of Unitary Human Beings naturally lends itself to a wider variety of qualitative studies, as is certainly seen in the published literature (Kim 2008; Farren 2009). Quantitative studies are far more limited in their applicability, and the pre-experimental, quasi-experimental, and descriptive designations that they receive reveal the difficulty in bringing a fully quantitative and statistical analysis to bear on the theory (Kim 2008). This does not mean that quantification ahs no place in the theory, but such reduction necessarily reveals only a portion of the whole person and their environment, and this context is necessary for a proper interpretation and eventual application of quantitative -- as well as qualitative -- data.
The Science of Unitary Human Beings has undergone much refinement and evolution since first introduced to the world by Martha E. Rogers in the 1960s. Its worldview makes it ideally suited to changing demands and practices in the medical and nursing worlds. As such, this grand theory of nursing promises to be around for many more years.
Butcher, H. (2008). "Progress in the explanatory power of the science of unitary human beings." Visions, 15(2), pp. 23-36.
Farren, a. (2009). "An oncology case study demonstrating the use of Roger's science of the unitary human being and standardized nursing language." International journal of nursing terminologies and classifications 20(1), pp. 34-9.
Kim, T. (2008). "Science of unitary human beings: An update on research." Nursing science quarterly21(4), pp. 294-99.
Malinski, V. (2008). "Research diversity from the perspective of the science of unitary human beings." Nursing science quarterly21(4), pp. 291-3.…[continue]
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