Unpleasant Symptoms Theory – Middle Range Nursing Theory Review

Over the years, middle-range nursing theories have been identified as an essential element of practice and research. They are highly recommended owing to fact that they are perceptible and verifiable using standard testing techniques. The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms is one of the most well-known middle-range theories in the nursing profession. Thus, it is essential to conduct an in-depth evaluation of this particular theory by exploring its purpose, conceptual definitions, theoretical statements, structure and linkages, assumptions and nursing implications

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            The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms was first presented in 1995 with the sole aim of aiding nurses in the identification of symptoms in their patients. In particular, the theory sought to equip nurses with knowledge regarding the assorted groups of symptoms they were likely to encounter to ensure they were acutely prepared in every scenario.  Knowledge of innumerable symptoms now allows nurses to implement non–pharmacological interventions during common routine interventions (E Haas, 2017). Thus, the theory essentially functions as a framework for developing the meaning behind specific symptoms which allows nurses to make accurate diagnoses.  Additionally, theory’s purpose was also to highlight the central position occupied by symptoms during nursing care and how best to measure them when seeking to introduce self-management practices.

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Concepts and Conceptual Definitions

            Three major concepts underpin the Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms; patient symptoms, influencing factors and outcomes. Here, symptoms are defined as a set of manifestations that are evident from a particular sufferer. They go on to affect their ability to perform optimally and even affect their quality of life. Normal cognitive and physical functioning is then adversely affected in the individual in question. Influencing factors represent aspects which affect symptom and can, therefore, be identified using the Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms. These include physiological, psychological and situational factors.

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 Physiological factors encompass anatomical and genetic variables indicative of an underlying anomaly attributed to disease. They may influence the patient by introducing a complex interplay as an indicator of pathology. On the other hand, psychological factors represent cognitive and affective variables which influence an individual’s overall wellbeing. The resultant psychobiology may affect their experience of the symptoms and their cognitive coping skills when confronting illness (Lee, Vincent, & Finnegan, 2016). Influencing factors represents a patient’s immediate environment and is basically situational. Individuals from different cultural backgrounds may have a unique experience of symptoms and their ability to cope in different situations. Socioeconomic status, lifestyle behaviors and physical behavior ultimately influence the symptom’s intensity in addition to their degree of manifestation.

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Theoretical Statements

            The major theoretical statement made in Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms is solely based on the fact that symptoms are a major part of diagnosis which is why they are typically underscored. Furthermore, a symptoms-focused intervention eventually aids patients during the recovery process through regular self-monitoring and the application of workable management strategies. The complexity of symptoms is emphasized, which is imperative in the creation of management strategies for sufferers. Performance is, therefore, a central focus in the theory which is related to its performance. The pragmatic orientation explored explores physical and cognitive impairment which may be proximal depending on specific symptoms.

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Structure and Linkages

            The structure of Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms is based on practice applications that are consistent with its basic tenets. It is based on an elaborate symptom assessment structure which aims to address the timing and intensity of symptoms evident in a patient. It is linked to the quality of care that will then be provided in an attempt to reduce the distress experienced by the sufferer. Patient history is also regarded as an essential part of the theory’s structure (Mary Jane Smith & Patricia R. Liehr, 2015). It endeavors to provide a comprehensive assessment of the psychological and physiological environment in an attempt to reveal any link that may exist between the two.  Influencing factors are then addressed by the type of intervention applied to make sure that amenable change is realized while providing holistic care. This is then linked to performance linkages which can be reviewed regularly when tracking change. A care plan is then developed to foster self-care and encourage patients to participate fully in self-monitoring.

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            The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms is based on one major assumption; commonalities are present within dissimilar symptoms.  Using this premise, symptoms can then be understood through experience which is essential in the development of important plans to treat the symptoms.

Nursing Implications

The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms is also bound to address some of the major challenges experienced by nurses when endeavoring to implement solutions to patient’s afflictions. Since the theory is practical and veers away from esoteric ideals, it is easy to comprehend which ultimately bolsters a nurse’s ability to provide care to patients. An emphasis on symptom prevention will consequently result in improved management plan which will contribute to a patient’s wellbeing. Furthermore, multi-professional teams are bound to fully adopt the theory since it is a feasible and reliable option in the quest for positive patient outcomes.

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