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Types of nursing knowledge used to guide care of hospitalized patients


  • Stefanos Mantzoukas,

    1. Stefanos Mantzoukas PhD RN Scientific Collaborator/Assistant Professor Highest Tehnological Educational Institute (ATEI) of Epirus, School of Nursing, Epirus, Greece
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  • Melanie Jasper

    1. Melanie Jasper PhD RN Head of School of Health Science School of Health Science, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
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S. Mantzoukas: e-mail:


Title. Types of nursing knowledge used to guide care of hospitalized patients.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to identify the types of nursing knowledge used to guide care of hospitalized patients.

Background.  The history of nursing knowledge is discerned in three distinct moments. The first historical moment conceives nursing knowledge as the acquisition of a set of descriptive rules, the second as the development of dualist explanatory theories and the third as the production of critical and/or integrative understandings. It remains unclear how these different types of knowledge are implemented in practice and how they affect the care of hospitalized patients.

Method.  A secondary qualitative analysis was conducted in 2007 on original data collected in 2002. The data were read with focus on the knowledge used by participants to confront practice situations. They were interpreted, classified and indexed to identify types of knowledge nurses use to care for hospitalized patients.

Findings.  Five discrete types of nursing knowledge that nurses use in practice emerged: personal practice knowledge, theoretical knowledge, procedural knowledge, ward cultural knowledge and reflexive knowledge.

Conclusion.  All three moments in the history of nursing knowledge were found to be concurrently present in nursing practice. Ward cultural knowledge and procedural knowledge reflect the rule-based descriptive knowledge of the first moment, theoretical knowledge and personal practice knowledge reflect the explanatory dualist knowledge of the second moment and reflexive knowledge reflects the critical and integrative knowledge of the third moment.