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Theory-based nursing practice requires a systematically developed, integrated body of information to deal effectively with the complexities of the human condition This philosophical research is founded on a complementary knowledge model, valuing diverse views The burden therefore is on uncovering connections between perspectives A method is proposed and tested for mapping pluralistic knowledge in chronic illness Underlying the method development is the premise that all knowledge can be represented as different combinations of ontology (views of the person) and epistemology (nature and aims of science) Based on a review of over 300 references, six major themes (comprised of 20 conceptual categories) are uncovered in the nursing literature Analysis of the map reveals the influence of trends as well as areas of minimal development (e g holism) A key advantage of mapping is the opportunity to know the data in a large substantive area and to begin to identify potential linkages for cumulation Fatigue, pain, symptom management, day-to-day living with illness, and social support are identified as promising areas to begin building a mid-range theory of chronic illness Developing a cumulative knowledge base narrows the gap between theory and practice