Intentionality in nursing: A foundational inquiry

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Doris N. Ugarriza - Committee Chair


Intentionality is a fundamental human dynamic that provides the context through which human-beings value, order, and live out the meaning of their lives. In nursing, intentionality is implicated in the quality, delivery, outcomes, and cost of patient care; the recruitment, development and retention of nurses and nurse educators; the design and efficacy of nursing curricula, and the ability of nurses to live transforming lives. Research on intentionality itself as a dynamic that influences, and directs nursing practice has remained largely unexamined. The research question of this study is, What is intentionality in nursing? Related questions are, Is intentionality in nursing different from intentionality in other disciplines? and, Does intentionality in nursing serve as an organizing matrix for patterns of thinking in nursing practice? A foundational inquiry with philosophical analysis and creation of a model was chosen as the research design best suited to achieve clarity in description, use, and value of the concept intentionality. Philosophic analysis consisted of linguistic analysis of the words intentionality, intention and intent, and philosophic reflection of how intentionality functioned in nursing, and in its relationship to nursing science. The sample consisted of select non-nursing classical works of philosophy and the nursing literature. Results of the philosophical analysis were synthesized in a model. Intentionality was revealed as a fluid dynamic framework or matrix extending recursively and cyclically from the unconscious to the conscious for the actualization of nursing. Intentionality, in which are embedded the values, ideals, and unique professional knowledge that distinguish nursing, shapes, guides, and directs practice. Nursing intentionality is expressed in such patterns as knowing, caring, and healing, and is a way of knowing the whole. The model demonstrates patterns of thinking in nursing practice, the interrelatedness and integrality of intentionality with Carpers (1978) fundamental patterns of personal, empirical, ethical and aesthetic knowing, and synthesis with the Phenix' (1964) fundamental patterns of symbolic, and synoptic (integrative) knowing.


Health Sciences, Nursing

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