PMID: 1937522Jan 1, 1991Paper

A taxonomic structure for the concept comfort

Image--the Journal of Nursing Scholarship
K Y Kolcaba


The concept of comfort is an important one for nursing, but because of its complexity, it has not been analyzed, operationalized or structured for nursing science. In this paper, three technical senses of the term are derived from: (a) contemporary and archaic lexical entries; (b) analysis of how the concept is used in contemporary and historical nursing literature; and (c) theoretical support found in the disciplines of nursing and ergonomics. Next, the contexts of patients' needs are explored and four contexts are derived from the nursing literature on holism. When the three senses and the four contexts of needs are juxtaposed, a 3 x 4 grid with 12 elements emerges that encompasses the total domain of patient comfort. Each element describes an aspect of comfort from which empirical indicators, antecedents, consequents and test items can be developed. The grid represents a taxonomic structure of the concept that organizes the meanings of this complex concept. The structure can be used to develop comfort pretests as the nurse assesses possible needs in a given situation and to develop comfort post tests, to assess the effectiveness of comfort measures.


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