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Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory in Nursing

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Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory in Nursing

Kolcaba’s comfort theory has gained a high degree of popularity in diverse nursing areas due to its precision and high applicability. The concepts guiding this theoretical framework are properly operationalized, which contributed to its usability in the clinical setting. According to Kolcaba (2003), comfort is “the immediate experience of being strengthened by having needs for relief, ease, and transcendence met in four contexts (physical, psychological, social, and environmental)” (p. 14). The researcher provides a clear operational definition of the three major concepts that are the elements of comfort (Pinto et al., 2016). Thus, relief is concerned with meeting specific needs, ease is a state of contentment, and transcendence is the feeling that the patient rises above pain or problems (Puchi et al., 2018). The researcher also mentions the exact contexts to concentrate on when identifying patient needs, which contributes to a high level of the measurability of the instruments.

The theorist developed particular instruments to measure patients’ comfort in two versions (48-item and a shortened questionnaire). McEwen and Wills (2017) state that the tools have been employed and validated in diverse nursing studies implemented in different clinical environments. The General Comfort Questionnaire (GCO) contains 48 Likert-scale questions, and the shortened version includes 28 items. The questions are clear and appropriate and refer to the four contexts mentioned above (Kolcaba, 2003). The researcher also developed instruments that can be used by practitioners in quite narrow settings. These tools include but are not confined to the Urinary Incontinence and Frequency Comfort Questionnaire, the Hospice Comfort Questionnaire, and the Comfort Behaviors Checklist (McEwen & Wills, 2017). It is noted that patients’ enhanced comfort can make patients more likely to collaborate with the medical staff. However, this statement still needs further exploration and validation.

It is necessary to state that the theory is comprehensive and understandable, which makes it attractive for so many researchers and practitioners. The use of this theoretical paradigm in the clinical setting can be manifold and instrumental in achieving several objectives. On the one hand, this theoretical model helps nurses to remain empathetic and attentive to patients’ needs mentioned above. Nurses should understand the value of patient comfort and have this concept in mind when delivering care.

On the other hand, the framework can assist nurses to provide high-quality care as nursing practitioners will be able to identify patient needs and address them effectively. Patients’ physical and mental states can hardly be seen as sufficient measurements for assessing patient outcomes. Patient comfort is a more comprehensive concept that is properly operationalized and can be easily measured with the help of the well-thought questionnaire. Finally, the theory supported by clear operational tools can be utilized to help patients clearly identify their needs and assess the way they are met.

All in all, it is necessary to note that Kolcaba’s comfort theory can help nursing professionals to improve the quality of care they provide. The theory is supported by properly operationalized concepts that are measurable and clear. The theorist developed several tools that can be utilized in different clinical settings and narrow clinical situations. The focus of this framework is on patient comfort that is constituted by certain elements and specific contexts. I will use this model in my practice due to its measurability and clarity. The questionnaires can help identify exact gaps to be filled to address patient needs.


Kolcaba, K. (2003). Comfort theory and practice: A vision for holistic health care and research. Springer Pub. Co.

McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2017). Theoretical basis for nursing. Wolters Kluwer Health.

Pinto, S. M. O., Berenguer, S. M. A. C., Martins, J. C. A., & Kolcaba, K. (2016). Cultural adaptation and validation of the Portuguese end of life spiritual comfort questionnaire in palliative care patients. Porto Biomedical Journal, 1(4), 147-152. Web.

Puchi, C., Paravic-Klijn, T., & Salazar, A. (2018). The comfort theory as a theoretical framework applied to a clinical case of hospital at home. Holistic Nursing Practice, 32(5), 228-239. Web.

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