A Study On Peplaus Interpersonal Theory

This nursing critique paper examines the work of Hildegard Peplau as a nursing theorist and nurse practitioner. Because Peplau’s figure in the nursing profession has had such a revolutionary impact, we will examine her early life then later her career as a nurse as well as how these experiences impacted her work a nursing theorist and the nursing profession. Peplau’s theory will be examined with the following critique: meaning and thought process of theory, origins of the theory, usefulness of the theory in practice, testability of the theory utilizing a scientific model, and an overall thorough and well researched presentation and evaluation of the theory. Furthermore, utilizing the components mentioned above we will examine an area in nursing practice that this theory could be applied and the relationship between this theory and nursing practice.

On March 17th, 1999, Hildegard Peplau died at the age of 89, ending a nursing career that spanned over 50 years of excellence. Peplau is often recognized as the “mother of psychiatric nursing” but her work and ideas have influenced the nursing profession profoundly. Known to many as the “nurse of the century,” Peplau was a nursing theorist and one of the world’s leading nurses, dynamically changing nursing practice from a career to a profession, inspiring all nurses to attain greater education develop and cultivate their profession, and developing nursing theories that revolutionized nursing practice.

In 1948, Peplau completed her exemplary work, “Interpersonal Relations in Nursing.” However, it was not published until 1952 because at the time the work was “too revolutionary for a nurse to publish a book without a physician as co-author,” (Lakeman). During her time, nursing schools are controlled by hospitals while nursing practice was controlled by medicine (Chinn, & Kramer, 2004). Peplau began her theory development in “response to the need in the late 1940’s to develop advance psychiatric nursing for graduate programs in psychiatric nursing, (Forchuk, 1993). At that time, the available nursing literature in psychiatric nursing was not adequate for graduate level, university-based psychiatric nursing education programs (Forchuk, 1993). She stated that her original intent was not theory development but “to convey to the nursing profession ideas she thought were important to improve practice,” (Forchuk, 1993). Peplau’s theory work was grounded in the interpersonal theory and the clinical experiences of herself and students. Peplau stated “concepts emerged from practice-my own and supervisory review of graduate student nurses beginning in 1948-from actual nurse-patient-relationship date (McQuiston, & Webb, 1995). Peplau was strongly influenced by the interpersonal development model of Harry Stack Sullivan and incorporated his theory of personality development and the self system in her work. She was also influenced by George Hubert Mead’s early work of symbolic interactionists, Rollo May’s work on anxiety, and Miller and Dollard’s understanding of learning (McQuiston, & Webb, 1995).

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