How do I find information on a nursing theorist or theory?
Last Updated: Mar 31, 2021     Views: 29

To search for a nursing theorist or theory, you can start in the CINAHL Complete database by doing a CINAHL Subject Headings search.

  1. On the Library homepage, click on the Nursing subject under Popular Content.
  2. Click on CINAHL Complete.
  3. At the top of the page, click on CINAHL Subject Headings.
  4. In the search box, enter the theorist’s name or the name of the theory. Here is a sample list of prevalent nursing theorists and theories:



Dorothea Orem 

Orem Self-Care Model 

Dorothy Johnson 

Johnson Behavioral System Model 

Jean Watson 

Watson's Theory of Caring 

Imogene King 

King's Theory of Goal Attainment 

Martha Rogers 

Rogers Science of Unitary Human Beings 

Callista Roy 

Roy Adaptation Model 


  1. Click the Browse button. 
  2. Check the box next to the theorist name or theory in the list of results. 
  3. Click the Search Database button located on the right-side of the page. ​​

Using this chart, another good place to search for a theorist or theory is an encyclopedia database such as SAGE Knowledge.

You can also try a search using the main search box on the Library homepage. Here are some sample searches you can copy and paste into the search box (separately):

TI(Orem) AND "self care"

TI(Orem) AND "self care" AND "nursing theory"

"Dorothy Orem" AND "self-care"

"Dorothy Johnson" AND "behavioral system model"

TI(“Jean Watson”) AND “human caring theory”

(TI)“human caring theory” AND Watson

"Imogene King" AND "goal attainment"

TI("Martha Rogers") AND "unitary human beings"

TI("Callista Roy") AND "adaptation model"

"Callista Roy"

Note that once you have results, you will need to go through the articles to determine what material is pertinent.

Search Tips:

  • You can try a variation of these searches in other nursing databases found on the Nursing subject page. View the short database descriptions to see types of content and information provided in each one.
  • For more information on Advanced Searching, such as limiting to peer-reviewed content only, check out how to Improve Your Results in the Develop a Search Strategy guide.

If you need additional assistance with your research or have another question, please Ask Us!