Assignment: Theory of Integral Nursing

Assignment: Theory of Integral Nursing

The experience of pain transcends the

physical body and requires a theory-driven,

tailored, whole-person approach to ensure

all effects of the pain experience on and in

the person; body, mind, and spirit are

addressed. The theory of integral nursing is

a composite theory developed by Barbara

Dossey in 2008 and built largely on the

work of Wilber (2000), whose integral

theory outlined the four dimensions of all

that is and represent what Wilbur believed

to be the true realities of life. Wilber posited

that understanding of these four dimensions

influences a person’s interpretation of reality

and carries the potential to affect one’s

relationships with others. Many of the

concepts within Dossey’s theory stem from

an amalgamation of concepts pivotal to

theories from within and outside of nursing.

The following commentary is a paraphrased

interpretation of Dossey’s theory with the

intent of aiding clinicians, academicians,

students, and others in understanding the

overall thrust of the theory. In this way,

partners in healthcare may find ways to

apply the theory’s core concepts to guide

the design of interventions in all areas of

practice, but especially in the area of pain

management practice. The concepts that

provide the organizing structure for the

theory of integral nursing are healing,

recognition of the metaparadigm of nursing,

patterns of knowing, quadrants, and all

quadrants/all levels (AQUAL). Appreciating

the richness and complexity of the theory

is a longitudinal process that begins with

unpacking each of the theory’s main

concepts and developing ways to apply

the concepts in clinical practice.


The central concept in the theory

of integral nursing is healing and is

conceptualized as a process that includes

“knowing, doing, and being” (Dossey &

Keegan, 2009, p. 21), as part of a life-long

journey toward increasing personal

harmony, harmony that is conveyed to

clients through caring actions and integral

dialogues. Integral dialogues are

transformative and visionary explorations

of ideas and possibilities within and

across disciplines.

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