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Nursing: Low Middle-Range Theories

In nursing, researchers and practitioners distinguish between grand, middle-range, and practice theories. Grand theories are broad and abstract and explain complex phenomena. Middle-range theories are composed of simple concepts, and they can be easily applied to practice. These theories may also be high-, middle-, and low-range ones, and the difference is in the concreteness and scope of these theories (McEwen & Wills, 2019). From this perspective, it is possible to state that low middle-range theories are closer to practice theories that are known as prescriptive models. This aspect means that these theories can be applied only in concrete situations regarding specific cases or conditions.

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A middle-range theory takes the position between the most abstract and most prescriptive theories. As a result, these theories are widely used to support certain interventions and treatment approaches in a nursing setting (McEwen & Wills, 2019). The reason is that middle-range theories explain the general concepts of nursing care to be applied, such as the person, health, environment, and nursing itself, and they are also applied to a specific situation observed. In their cross-sectional study, Ni et al. (2018) applied such middle-range theory as Mishel’s Uncertainty in Illness Theory. The purpose of the study was to determine the characteristics of patients with a stroke concerning their uncertainty. It was found with the help of the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale that patients had a high level of uncertainty during an acute phase of a stroke. Implications of this study are that theory-based scales can be actively applied to determine the levels of patients’ uncertainty in different situations, and this information is important for individuals’ effective rehabilitation and recovery.


McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2019). Theoretical basis for nursing (5th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Ni, C., Peng, J., Wei, Y., Hua, Y., Ren, X., Su, X., & Shi, R. (2018). Uncertainty of acute stroke patients: A cross-sectional descriptive and correlational study. Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 50(4), 238-243. Web.

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