Middle range theory in the making: You gotta’ stay with it and you gotta’ pass it on

Posted on March 14, 2017 by


Our latest featured article from the current ANS issue is titled “Middle Range Theory: A Perspective on Development and Use” by Patricia Liehr, PhD, RN and Mary Jane Smith, PhD, RN, FAAN. Both authors are long-time contributors to ANS and in this article they examine the journey of developing middle range theory that is solidly situated within nursing’s disciplinary persepective and ultimately bringing it to the interdisciplinary table. This article is available for download at no cost on the ANS website while it is featured.  Here is a message that the authors provided for ANS blog readers, followed by a short video that Dr. Liehr and her doctoral students created, talking about the nature of middle-range theory:

We are going to tell you our story as it relates to this paper. Often when we use a story path that focuses on the present…the past….and the future.

At PRESENT, we invite you to read and share your thoughts about “Middle range theory: A perspective on development

Mary Jane Smith (L) & Patricia Liehr (R)

Mary Jane Smith (L) and Patricia Liehr (R)

and use” in the current issue of ANS. We are honored to be in this retrospective issue.

Moving to PAST, we first met and engaged with each other in 1979-1980 as teacher (Smith) – student (Liehr) while Liehr was in her Masters program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

During a period of about 20 years, as we began to learn more about middle range theory as a guide for practice and research, we saw the need for a state of the science manuscript. This was the impetus for the 1999 paper published in ANS “Middle range theory: Spinning research and practice to create knowledge for the new millennium.”

The 1999 paper in ANS was the impetus for our textbook, Middle Range Theory for Nursing, first published in 2003. The book was written to create a resource for scholars wishing to use middle range theory in practice and research.

The 1999 paper was also the impetus for this 2017 paper, allowing us to consider middle range theory through the lens set forth nearly 20 years ago.

And now, the FUTURE….the 4th edition of Middle Range Theory for Nursing is in the works and we continue to teach students about the usefulness of middle range theory. We are offering a short video recording of current PhD students at Florida Atlantic University, Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing who are considering the relevance of middle range theory as they immerse in developing ideas to guide their research.

The foremost recommendation in “Middle range theory: A perspective on development and use” is to “stay with the theory”. We believe that persistence and scholarly engagement over time has the potential to effectively shape disciplinary knowledge. Our story highlights and brings to life this belief. Thank you for sharing blog-time with us.

Patricia Liehr and Mary Jane Smith