In the field of nursing, theories from various disciplines can serve as valuable resources to inform and guide professional practice. These theories provide nurses with a framework to understand human behavior, leadership dynamics, business principles, educational methodologies, and technological advancements that impact patient care and communication. This paper will focus on the theory of planned behavior (TPB) from the discipline of behavioral science and assess its value to professional nursing practice.
Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)
The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) is a psychological theory that was developed by Icek Ajzen in the late 1980s. It is rooted in the field of social psychology and seeks to explain and predict human behavior based on individuals’ intentions. According to TPB, an individual’s behavior is influenced by their beliefs, attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control (Ajzen, 1985).
TPB proposes that behavioral intentions are the primary predictors of actual behavior. These intentions are influenced by three main factors:
1. Attitudes: This refers to an individual’s overall evaluation of the behavior in question. Positive attitudes towards a behavior will increase the likelihood of intending to engage in that behavior.
2. Subjective norms: These are the perceived social pressures or expectations regarding a behavior. If an individual perceives that their important others expect them to engage in a particular behavior, they are more likely to intend to perform that behavior.
3. Perceived behavioral control: This factor refers to an individual’s belief in their ability to perform a behavior. Higher levels of perceived behavioral control increase the likelihood of intending to engage in the behavior.
Value to Professional Nursing Practice
The Theory of Planned Behavior has several applications and value to professional nursing practice. Firstly, it can be used to understand and predict patient behavior related to health promotion and adherence to treatment regimens. By examining an individual’s attitudes towards healthy behaviors, subjective norms, and perceived control over their health, nurses can tailor interventions to effectively promote behavior change and improve patient outcomes.
For example, if a nurse is working with a patient who is hesitant to adhere to a prescribed medication regimen, they can use TPB to assess the patient’s attitudes towards the medication, perceived social pressures or expectations regarding its use, and the patient’s belief in their ability to follow the regimen. Based on this assessment, the nurse can then design interventions that address the specific barriers and motivators identified by the patient, thus increasing the likelihood of adherence.
Secondly, TPB can be employed to guide nursing leadership and management practices. By understanding employees’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control towards organizational goals, nurse leaders can create a supportive environment that fosters employee engagement and commitment.
For instance, a nurse manager seeking to implement a new electronic health record system can use TPB to assess the attitudes of nurses towards the new technology, the subjective norms within the organization regarding its adoption, and nurses’ perceived control over using the system. Based on this assessment, the manager can design training programs, provide necessary resources, and address any concerns or barriers identified by the nursing staff, thereby facilitating a smooth transition to the new system.
Furthermore, the Theory of Planned Behavior can be instrumental in understanding patients’ communication preferences and decision-making processes. By examining individuals’ attitudes towards different modes of communication, the subjective norms surrounding communication with healthcare providers, and perceived control over engaging in effective communication, nurses can tailor their communication strategies to ensure patient-centered care.
For instance, if a patient expresses a preference for face-to-face interactions and feels that their family members expect them to have direct communication with the healthcare team, nurses can ensure that these preferences and expectations are accommodated. By doing so, nurses can establish rapport, foster trust, and enhance patient satisfaction and engagement in their own care.
The Theory of Planned Behavior, rooted in the discipline of behavioral science, offers valuable insights for professional nursing practice. By understanding and utilizing this theory, nurses can better predict and shape patient behaviors, enhance leadership and management practices, and tailor communication strategies for optimal patient-centered care. Incorporating theories from various disciplines into nursing practice allows for a holistic approach to patient care and can contribute to improved outcomes and patient experiences.