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St Thomas University W6 Conceptual Theoretical Empirical System Discussion

I’m working on a nursing discussion question and need an explanation to help me understand better.

Melissa Roy

Examine the science and art of theory development and evaluation.

Theory is a description of concepts and their relationship that help us understand a phenomena. Theories are developed through a molding of science and art in the form of creative conversion of ideas

stemming from provocative facts, observed in practice and literature. (Butts & Rich, 2018). The facts are noticed because they referenced the observer’s framework about nursing, also known as a conceptual model

of nursing. Theories are products of research, and the conduction of research is a scientific process; but it is also the logical reasoning of developing structures, designing studies, and interpreting data. Conceptual

models consist of abstracts, general concepts and propositions that are of central interest to a discipline. (Fawcett, 1988). It has been reported that the content of the report of every study can be viewed as a 

conceptual-theoretical-empirical structure (Parsi, 2005) also known as CTE. The components of a conceptual-theoretical-empirical structure (CTE) include the conceptual model, which is the basis for the research

topic or practice situation; the theory, that is to be generated or tested, and the empirical indicators that provide a way to directly observe the theory. CTEs are used to generate and test theories, and to also

identify tools for data collection. The understanding of this process requires critical thinking and judgment about each component of the CTE structure. Critical thinking and making judgment are the scientific parts

for understanding the standard of the CTE structure. The art portion requires an understanding of the interrelationship of the structural components of the conceptual-theoretical-empirical structure.

There are a myriad of criteria for evaluating theories found in the literatures, but only one set of criteria contains the three components of CTE structures, counting conceptual model, theory and empirical

indicators.(Fawcett & Garity, 2009). The evaluation of CTE structure is a five-step process. The first step focuses on the conceptual model, which contains two criteria, specification adequacy and linkage adequacy.

The second, explores the theory component and it is composed of four characteristics, including significance, internal consistency, parsimony, and testability. In the third step, emphasis is placed on empirical

indicators to determine operational adequacy. The fourth step, evaluates the theory component for empirical adequacy, and the last step looks at the conceptual model for legitimacy. The use of the CTE structure

in the field of nursing practice involves a high level of critical creativity, clinical decision making, use of proper psychomotor capabilities and the approach of ethnically sensitive dealings in nursing care.

It is important for Advanced Practice Nurses to understand and incorporate CTE structure in their practice because it empowers them with the tool to create their own studies designed to generate new theories

or use the diagram for an existing study. 


Fawcett, J. (1988). Conceptual Models and Theory Development

Garity, J. & Fawcett, J. (2009). Evaluate Research for Evidence-based Nursing Practice

Parsi, R., R. (2005). Parsi’s criteria for evaluation of theory.

Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2018). Philosophies and Theories For Advanced Nursing Practice


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