Concepts have been described as the building blocks of theory.
Concepts have been described as the building blocks of theory.

Concept analysis in nursing most often uses the framework developed by Lorraine Olszewski Walker and Kay Coalson Avant and published in 2005 in their "Strategies for Theory Construction in Nursing" text. This framework has been criticized in recent years, even being called an arbitrary and vacuous exercise. Despite the criticisms, the framework is still widely used. Preparing a concept analysis paper for nursing involves conducting a literature review, identifying the key characteristics or attributes of the concept, identifying its antecedents and consequences and apply them to a model case.

Identify Concepts to Study

Identify a concept you wish to study by examining specific areas of nursing that interest you, fall within your current nursing study and have a connection to nursing research and practice. Choosing a field of study for the paper should be based in the theory framework of nursing as a dynamic practice and research-based science. For example, the concept of empowerment and its relationship to mental health nursing has been subjected to a concept analysis. Other potential study examples include breathlessness and pregnancy.

Conduct Literature Review

Conduct a literature review on your chosen concept from a broad range of disciplines. Don't look just nursing science. For example, also consider including the disciplines of clinical sociology, community psychology, patient care, nursing technology, elder care or abuse prevention. Literature reviews can be related directly to nursing research or look at collaborations with other fields.

Identify Key Concept Characteristics

Identify the key characteristics or attributes of your concept. For example, a key characteristic of the pregnancy concept is a fetal heartbeat. Key characteristics of empowerment include that it is both a process and an outcome, and that is both a communal and positive concept.

Identify Concept Antecedents and Consequences

Identify the concept antecedents and consequences. By definition, antecedents are incidents leading to the concept. For example, the antecedents of pregnancy are ovulation and sexual intercourse. Consequences instead follow the concept. For example, the consequence of pregnancy is either miscarriage or birth.

Construct Analysis Model

Construct your analysis using a model, contrary, related and a borderline case. A model case shares all of the key characteristics of the concept, all the defining criteria and at least one of the antecedents and consequences. A contrary case has none of the defining characteristics, a related case has a similar defining characteristic and a borderline case might be a metaphoric use of the concept. Within the concept of pregnancy, a model case might deal with a concealed pregnancy that the woman was unaware of and the related antecedents and consequences. By contrast, a contrary case could also involve a concealed pregnancy that the woman was unaware of. For example, a woman arriving at the hospital followed by an unexpected birth would be a contrary case because she was unaware of any antecedents.