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Cognitive Continuum Theory in nursing decision-making


  • Raffik Cader BA MSc DN CertEd RGN RMN,

  • Steve Campbell BNurs PhD RGN RSCN RHV NDNCert FRSH,

  • Don Watson BA MPhil PhD CPsychol AFBPsS

Raffik Cader,
School of Health,
Community and Education Studies,
Northumbria University,
Manor House,
Coach Lane West,
Newcastle Upon Tyne NE7 7XA,


Aim.  The purpose of this paper is to analyse and evaluate Cognitive Continuum Theory and to provide evidence for its relevance to nurses’ decision-making.

Background.  It is critical that theories used in nursing are evaluated to provide an understanding of their aims, concepts and usefulness. With the advent of evidence-based care, theories on decision-making have acquired increased significance.

Method.  The criteria identified by Fawcett's framework has been used to analyse and evaluate Hammond's Cognitive Continuum Theory.

Findings.  There is empirical evidence to support many of the concepts and propositions of Cognitive Continuum Theory. The theory has been applied to the decision-making process of many professionals, including medical practitioners and nurses. Existing evidence suggests that Cognitive Continuum Theory can provide the framework to explain decision-making in nursing.

Conclusion.  Cognitive Continuum Theory has the potential to make major contributions towards understanding the decision-making process of nurses in the clinical environment. Knowledge of the theory in nursing practice has become crucial.