Category: Medicine
Adaptation Model

All models do not represent external reality, but they rely on abstractions and simplifications to stress some crucial aspects or elements that demonstrate the major characteristics of the examined events or processes. This paper analyzes one of the most well-known and influential nursing models – the adaptation model. The key assumptions and implications of this model will be specified. The historical evolution of the model will be presented. The relevant beliefs and values will be specified. The strategies used for formulating the model will be clarified. The logical congruence of the model, as well as its credibility, will be discussed. The purpose of this paper is to specify the strengths and weaknesses of the adaptation model as well as its scientific value for further nursing development. In general, the adaptation model shows the significant potential for the proper understanding of key nursing issues and designing effective interventions.

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The adaptation model was developed by Sister Callista Roy in 1976. Nowadays, it is one of the most influential models in nursing. This model states that all individuals constitute a complex system that includes several sub-systems such as biological, psychological, and social ones. The maximum level of health may be achieved only when all these systems are well-balanced. However, the actual situation is such that the absolute harmony is very problematic. Therefore, numerous misbalances are likely, and they may cause different health problems. Thus, the ultimate goal of nurses is to restore the natural balance relying on various stimuli and adaptation frameworks suitable for a given individual.

The adaptation model experienced the large-scale evolution of its key principles and implications. The first element of the model emerged in the 1960s when Roy was a student. She adopted a systematic approach to understanding human beings and their life experiences. In the 1980s, she developed the idea of human adaptation to the changing conditions of the external community and their families. Later studies elaborated on the relationships between nursing, individuals, and their social adaptation. It was determined that adaptation processes could be facilitated and encouraged.

The development of the model was motivated by the need to explain the complexity of human choices and preferences. As any single explanation was imprecise, Roy decided to integrate various relevant sub-systems into a single complex system that included various relevant elements. The model is based on different psychological beliefs. In particular, the author of the model believes that individuals aim at reaching harmony, and their psychological and emotional responses are caused by specific stimuli. The relevant strategies for knowledge development reveal that individuals tend to shift to those modes of behavior that address their needs better. If some modes are ineffective, they try to use other alternatives relying on adaptation. Although the adaptation model is innovative, Roy was influenced by the psychologist Harry Helson. In this way, the effective psychological background was introduced into the model. It advocates the worldview of the peaceful coexistence of all social members and the possibility of balancing their interests and needs.

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Comprehensiveness of Focus

It is possible to evaluate the model on the basis of four major concepts of the nursing metaparadigm. The first one is the person component. It means that any realistic model should address people’s spiritual and social needs adequately. The adaptation model meets this requirement as it recognizes the variety of human needs and their interrelations. Moreover, it states that all of them should be harmonized with one another. The second concept is the environment component. It refers to evaluating both internal and external influences of the social environment. The adaptation model has strong positions in this context as it states explicitly the need for people’s adaptation to any changes in the external conditions and factors. The third one is the health component. It refers to addressing the emotional, physical, and social needs of people. The adaptation model also meets these criteria as it recognizes and addresses the variety of human needs. Only in this way, the necessary balance and harmony may be reached. The third one is the nursing component. It refers to applying skills and knowledge to patients’ problems and generating the maximum possible results for them. The adaptation model creates the necessary foundation for implementing this component effectively. The reason is this model orients clearly to the needs of patients and tries to address them in a complex way. The adaptation model allows for the realization of all meta paradigms of nursing simultaneously.

In general, it seems that the relational propositions of the adaptation model perfectly link the four metaparadigm concepts. As the model recognizes that any single factor cannot explain adequately all human choices, various factors are considered. Moreover, the adaptation model helps to adjust the ultimate strategy to the needs of a given patient. Thus, nurses are more flexible in their choices. They can address the needs of various patients differently. The major criterion is the maximization of the overall positive treatment effect within the minimum possible amount of time. The adaptation model also creates the opportunity for the further development of all metapodials in accordance with the dynamics of patients’ needs and technological achievements.

Logical Congruence

The adaptation model reflects more than one world view. It considers all human beings as complex systems that are subject to various influences. Consequently, it is necessary to analyze a large number of inter-related factors and aspects. For example, the model stresses that various environmental factors are crucial in the context of affecting people’s choices and strategies. All people also affect choices made by other social members. Therefore, there is a need to evaluate the situation from different perspectives. The adaptation model may consider different proposals and alternative solutions.

The model reflects several key characteristics of nursing knowledge. On the one hand, it concentrates on people’s internal reactions and the transformation of psychological impulses into the ultimate actions. On the other hand, it focuses on the interactions in the broad social environment and the mutual interests and reactions of various social members. Thus, the model allows for the integration of all external and internal factors. On this basis, nurses may develop more realistic and effective interventions. The model’s components reflect the logical translation of relevant perspectives. For example, psychological issues are interrelated closely with social ones. As a result, it is possible to evaluate the role of the social environment in the subsequent psychological impulses as well as potential actions. It seems that nurses may be aware of different methods of influencing people’s behavior with the help of this model as it clarifies the interrelationships of all relevant elements.


One of the most important issues for evaluating any nursing model is its credibility. The reason is that these models are not mere abstractions but the approximation of reality that guides further nurses’ actions and strategies. In relation to the adaptation model, it seems to be credible for a number of reasons. First, it has a comparatively long history and demonstrates the high rates of development. In particular, the process of adaptation is often evaluated from various standpoints, and different scholars try to adjust it to the local conditions of their interest. Second, it is highly realistic and integrates the latest achievements in such spheres as psychology, sociology, and nursing. Therefore, it has considerable value for different subjects and disciplines.

Third, the adaptation model analyzes individuals from a systematic perspective. For example, all relevant factors are considered and integrated with one another. Therefore, the model represents external reality correctly. In general, the credibility of the model is high, and it is confirmed by a large number of independent experts as the adaptation model is considered as being one of the most influential models of the 21st century. The credibility of the model is also confirmed by the corresponding four modes of adaptation. This classification reflects different types of stimuli as well as the corresponding individual differences between patients. The adaptation model cannot be applied mechanistically but requires a deep understanding of people’s differences and preferences.

Contributions to Nursing Knowledge

The overall contribution of the adaptation model to nursing knowledge is very high. One of the major contributions is the attempt of comprehending the entire social reality and human beings’ psychological responses. Although Roy realizes that this goal is highly ambitious, she does not introduce any simplifications in her model that may lead to unrealistic and incorrect implications. The adaptation model clarifies the mutual dependence of social and psychological factors. In this way, nurses may comprehend the transition process better. They may introduce the corresponding interventions in accordance with their stated objectives and goals. Moreover, the strategies can be adjusted according to patients’ responses and any relevant changes in their external environment.

The adaptation model demonstrates that modern nurses should possess the universal knowledge and skills regarding both social and psychological factors that may impact people’s behavior and choices. They should also be able to assess independently and timely the major characteristic features of people’s behavior and personal experience. The model shows that nursing challenges are severe, but they can be addressed successfully if the comprehensive analysis is provided. In particular, it is reasonable to construct various alternatives hypotheses and verify them in the actual practice. When the correct mode of behavior is understood, nurses may develop the corresponding interventions. In general, the adaptation model’s contributions refer to making nursing more practically-oriented as well as examining all nursing implications from systematic points of view. The adaptation model formulates numerous postulates that may be helpful even for proponents of other models and approaches.

Theory Generating Capacity

Effective nursing models do not only provide correct answers to the major healthcare challenges but help to create new theories that may address more specific issues and problems. The adaptation theory also has strong positions in this field as its broad principles may be applied to various specific situations and local conditions. For example, Dobratz (2014) the application of the general nursing principles proposed by Roy to the problem of dying and corresponding choices. The author claims that the adaptation model assists in examining these issues comprehensively as well as taking into consideration the relevant spiritual and existential components. Generally, ethical issues can also be evaluated while all social and psychological interrelations are specified.

Buckner and Buckner (2015) claim the adaptation model can be extended to various social and humanitarian projects organized by humanitarian organizations. In particular, they apply it to the relief programs implemented by several NGOs during the Arab Spring. The analysis permits to specify the most effective and rational choices made by these organizations. Correspondingly, the systematic approach specifies the major problems and sub-optimal decisions. Therefore, the analysis of real-life cases contributes to the optimization of the entire set of NGOs’ strategies. It shows that the adaptation model is applicable to both micro- and macro-levels.

However, the majority of further theories concentrate on narrow nursing implications. The adaptation model offers a high potential in this context. For example, Ordin, Karayurt, and Wellard (2013) demonstrate that Roy’s adaptation model may be helpful while evaluating potential liver transplantation strategies. The authors use the four modes of behavior developed by Roy and apply them to transplant recipients. They explain that these processes are closely related to numerous psychological issues that should be addressed by nurses. Thus, the adaptation model may improve the quality of delivering nursing care to such patients. Overall, the adaptation model has a large capacity to generate theory. The only weakness of the model is its formulation in broad terms and the possibility of its different, and even opposite, interpretations.


It may be concluded that the adaptation model is one of the most well-designed and sophisticated theoretical frameworks in nursing. It was developed by Roy in the 1970s and became especially popular at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century. The model examines people’s psychological responses to external stimuli and includes both sociological and psychological elements. The adaptation model shows continuous development and contributes to the emergence of new theories and nursing solutions. Nowadays, the adaptation model is applied to various practical issues both at the micro- and macro-levels. For example, the strategies and actions of NGOs may be evaluated and considered. Many nursing operations and local strategies may be optimized with the help of the adaptation model. It is formulated in broad terms, and various authors propose alternative interpretations. However, its flexibility and orientation to patients’ needs make this model highly relevant to various cases. It may be expected that the role of the adaptation model will continue to increase in the near future. The numerous strengths of this approach outweigh its minor weaknesses and make it the foundation of nursing development.

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