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J Adv Nurs. 1999 Nov;30(5):1222-9.

A conceptual treadmill: the need for 'middle ground' in clinical decision making theory in nursing.

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Centre for Evidence-Based Nursing, Genesis 6, Science Park, University of York, York, YO10 5DQ, England.


This paper explores the two predominant theoretical approaches to the process of nurse decision making prevalent within the nursing research literature: systematic-positivistic approaches as exemplified by information processing theory, and the intuitive-humanistic approach of Patricia Benner. The two approaches' strengths and weaknesses are explored and as a result a third theoretical stance is proffered: the idea of a cognitive continuum. According to this approach the systematic and intuitive theoretical camps occupy polar positions at either end of a continuum as opposed to separate theoretical planes. The methodological and professional benefits of adopting such a stance are also briefly outlined.

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