Title. Developing a mid-range theory of patient advocacy through concept analysis
Aim. The aim of this paper is to clarify and refine the concept of patient advocacy through synthesizing the advocacy literature in nursing and to establish a theoretical basis for future studies on patient advocacy in nursing.
Background. Patient advocacy is an essential component of the Registered Nurse professional role. During the past 30 years, the patient advocacy role has become more important, but the concept of patient advocacy lacks a consistent definition and research into nurses’ patient advocacy roles is limited. There have been few quantitative empirical studies on patient advocacy in nursing.
Method. Walker and Avant's method of concept analysis was used as a guideline in examining the concept of patient advocacy through synthesizing the advocacy literature in English (1974–2006).
Findings. A mid-range theory of patient advocacy emerges during the process of synthesizing and analysing the advocacy literature. Three core attributes of the concept of patient advocacy are identified: (1) safeguarding patients’ autonomy; (2) acting on behalf of patients; and (3) championing social justice in the provision of health care. They reflect nurses’ patient advocacy roles at both macro- and micro-social levels. Antecedents of patient advocacy occur at both macro- and micro-social levels and call for nurses’ advocacy roles in the healthcare system. Consequences produced by nurses’ patient advocacy behaviours are contextual. Nurses’ patient advocacy behaviours not only can positively influence the patients, other nurses and the nursing profession, but also can cause negative consequences for nurses who take action to advocate for patients.
Conclusion. The proposed mid-range theory may be useful in guiding advocacy practice in nursing and in guiding research in the advocacy area. The proposed theory needs to be furthered refined and tested in the future.