Modeling and Role Modeling Theory

  • Modeling and Role Modeling theory was developed by Helen C. Erickson, Evelyn M. Tomlin, and Mary Ann P. Swain
  • The theory was published in their book Modeling and Role Modeling: A Theory and Paradigm for Nursing, in 1983.
  • This theory is considered as a philosophy of nursing.
  •  The Theory of Modeling and Role-Modeling enables nurses to care for and nurture each client with an awareness of and respect for the individual's uniqueness which exemplifies theory-based clinical practice that focuses on the clients' needs. (Sappington, 1996).
Major Concepts
The theory draws concepts from
  • Maslow's theory of hierarchy of needs
  • Erikson's theory of psychosocial stages
  • Piaget's theory of cognitive development
  • General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) by Selye and Lazarus
Commonalities and Differences (Barbara L. Irvin, 1997)
The theory explains about some commonalities and differences among people.
Commonalities among people are:
  • Holism
  • Basic Needs
  • Affiliated-Individuation
  • Attachment and Loss
  • Psychosocial Stages
  • Cognitive Stages
Differences among people are:
  • Inherent Endowment
  • Model of the World
  • Adaptation
  • Adaptation Potential
  • Stress
  • Self-Care
  • Self-Care Knowledge
  • Self-Care Resources
  • Self-Care Action
  • Modeling is the process by which the nurse seeks to know and understand the client’s personal model of his or her world and learns to appreciate its value and significance.
  • Modeling recognizes that each person has a unique perspective (model) of his or her world.
  • The nurse uses this process to develop an image and understanding of the client’s world from the client’s perspective.
Role Modeling
  • Role modeling is the process by which the nurse facilitates and nurtures the individual in attaining, maintaining, and promoting health.
  • Role modeling accepts the client unconditionally and allows planning of unique interventions.
  • According to this concept, the client is the expert in his or her own care and knows best how he or she needs to be helped.
Application of the theory
According to the theory the roles of nursing are:
  • Facilitation
  • Nurturance
  • Unconditional Acceptance
The theory states five goals of nursing interventions as:
  • Build trust
  • Promote client’s positive orientation
  • Promote client’s control
  • Affirm and promote client’s strengths
  • Set mutual, health-directed goals
  • Modeling refers to the development of an understanding of the client's world.
  • Role modeling is the nursing intervention, or nurturance, that requires unconditional acceptance.
  • This model considers nursing as a self-care model based on the client's perception of the world and adaptations to stressors.
  1. Sappington J, Kelley JH. Modeling and role-modeling theory: a case study of holistic care. J Holist Nurs. 1996 Jun;14(2):130-41.
  2. Erickson, H.C., Tomlin, E.M., & Swain, M.A. Modeling and role-modeling: A theory and paradigm for nursing. Prentice Hall, 1983.
  3. Irvin BL. MRM Selected Definitions, 1997. Available at . Accessed on 2/11/2010.
  4. Lombardo SL, Roof M. Clinicians' forum: A Case Study Applying the Modeling and Role-Modeling Theory to Morbid Obesity. Home Healthcare Nurse, 2005 - 23:7; 425 - 428.


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