Hildegard Elizabeth Peplau was reported to have been born on September 1, 1909 and became one of the most popular nursing theorists after Florence Nightingale (Wayne, 2014). Peplau was attributed the distinction of being a psychiatric nurse of the century and was noted to have served the American Nurses Association (ANA) as Executive Director and eventually, as President (Wayne, 2014). Accordingly, Peplau conceptualized and popularized the Theory of Interpersonal Relations, known to have been inspired and influenced by the works of Abraham Maslow, Henry Stack Sullivan, Neal Elgar Mille, and Percival Symonds (Wayne, 2014).
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The theory asserts that nursing, as a profession, is “an interpersonal process of therapeutic interactions between an individual who is sick or in need of health services and a nurse especially educated to recognize, respond to the need for help.” It is a “maturing force and an educative instrument” involving an interaction between two or more individuals with a common goal” (Wayne, Hildegard Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations Theory, 2014, p. 1). Moreover, the components of the theory were identified to include: (1) the person or man, (2) the environment, (3) health, and (4) nursing (Wayne, Hildegard Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations Theory, 2014). In addition, Peplau also contended through the theory that there are four (4) sequential phases within the interpersonal relationship to include: (1) orientation, (2) identification, (3) exploitation, and (4) resolution (Wayne, Hildegard Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations Theory, 2014). Concurrently, the theoretical framework also incorporated seven (7) roles of nurses, such as: “Stranger role, Resource role, Teaching role, Counseling role, Surrogate role, Active leadership and Technical expert role” (Wayne, Hildegard E. Peplau – Psychiatric Nurse of the Century, 2014, p. 1).
From the framework, it could be deduced that Peplau explored the critical role of nurses as paramount to the improvement in the health condition of patients within current environmental contexts. As such, Peplau clearly identified which components are an integral part of the interpersonal relationship model. Moreover, the sequential phases also indicate the stages that both patients and nurses go through to initially identify and assess the health condition of the patient, prior to identifying the professional assistance that is proposed to be required. The exploitation phase enables determining the actual illness based on signs, symptoms, as well as results of various diagnostic and laboratory examinations that are prescribed through active assistance of the nurses and in close collaboration with other health professionals and practitioners. Finally, the resolution stage asserted end of the relationship where the recovery and plan of care has supposedly been comprehensively undertaken.
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In sum, Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relationship had been recognized as instrumental and contributory to the provision of patient-centered and holistic care. Through the identification of components, sequential phases, as well as the roles of nurses, the nursing profession had been regarded as a noble career where the best interests of the patients were recognized as paramount towards the provision of high quality of patient care. The model has been evaluated and compared to the nursing process which were both recognized as sequential and focused on therapeutic relationship through collaborative problem solving between nurses and patients. As such, Peplau’s theory could be considered as a forerunner of the nursing process with the ultimate objective of accomplishing or fulfilling varied and distinct needs of the patients.
- Wayne, G. (2014, September 2). Hildegard E. Peplau – Psychiatric Nurse of the Century. Wayne, G. (2014, September 2). Hildegard Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations Theory.