A nursing conceptual model is an abstract way of showing the way concepts interrelate which include the 4 basic nursing concepts which are; nursing, person, health, and environment (Cherry and Jacob, 2017). These concepts are defined differently by various theorist, resulting in varying theories due to the different perspectives of how these concepts relate to one another (Cherry and Jacob, 2017). It is from the conceptual model that a hypothesis is created (Cherry and Jacob, 2017) Through research and testing, a nursing theories validity is strengthened (Mock et al., 2007). According to McKenna, Pajnkihar, and Murphy, “Theory exists at different stages of development and a conceptual model is a stage of development on the way to becoming a theory” (2014, p.106). The purpose of nursing theory application is to improve nursing practice (Whitney, 2018).
Richard Lazarus’ theory of stress, coping, and adaptation addresses the psychological coping mechanisms that are due to stress (Whitney,2018). “Psychological stress is a particular relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his or her well-being” (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, p. 19). Coping is defined by Lazarus and Folkman “as constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person” (1984, p. 179).
This theory can be used in practice with every client admitted to the hospital or any client that encounters a healthcare professional. Simply going to receive a physical can induce a stress response and elevate the blood pressure in a phenomenon known as white coat syndrome. On the other end of the spectrum there is the stress responses from illness or trauma that have effects on the body such as elevated blood glucose levels, elevated cortisol levels, heart rate, and so on. Additionally, the psychological responses clients use for coping such as becoming withdrawn, angry, needy, aggressive, passive aggressive, depressed, afraid, nervous, and so on. By being cognizant about these coping mechanisms related to the stressors the client is facing, as nurses, we can assess, identify the problem, and seek necessary resources if needed, in order to intervene so that the client can cope more effectively or so that the initial stress can be removed. For example, if a client is afraid of having to go spend the night in the hospital, and is coping by yelling out on the unit, the nurse can intervene by addressing the stressor (fear of sleeping in hospital), and by resolving the stressor, the negative coping mechanism will resolve as well.