Concept analysis is a fundamental process in developing the theoretical basis for nursing as a practice. It involves the activity and process of defining and clarifying ideas and characteristics, and relations among them, as a way of developing concrete understanding of specific approaches and models in nursing. Conceptual clarity represents a critical objective for all research activity because identifying the parts and components of a theory and its structures and examining them against various identified criteria are essential for effective theory development (Nuopponen, 2010). Following the identification of an area of interest, there emerges the need to define the concepts, their relations with one another, and their relationships and significance within the whole idea or theory.
The general process of concept analysis involves a procedure of building concrete and coherent ideas and structures for a theoretical model. The steps include selection of a concept, designation of aims and purposes, identifying its uses, defining the attributes, constructing a model case, enhancing borderline cases and clarifying outlying areas and issues (including social and inventive contexts), classifying antecedents and effects (consequences), and defining empirical contexts where the concepts are applicable. I think that the most critical phase of concept analysis in development of theory concerns the activity of identifying and categorizing the defining attributes. This is because defining attributes constitute the foundations and hallmarks of theoretical framework, involving the characteristics and qualities that represent the reference points for the concepts and theory. In this context, the attributes represent the features that the theory and its concepts associate withmost frequently, thus allowing the broadest insights into the concept and the theory (Bousso, Poles, &Monteiro da Cruz, 2013).The other phases, including construction of model cases, enumeration of antecedents and consequences, and identifications of concept uses and practical applications, are dependent on the defining attributes.
Bousso, R., Poles, K., &Monteiro da Cruz, D. (2013). Nursing Concepts and Theories. Journal of the Nursing School of the University of Sao Paulo 48 (1): 141-145. Retrieved from: http://www.scielo.br/pdf/reeusp/v48n1/0080-6234-reeusp-48-01-141.pdf
Nuopponen, A. (2010). Methods of Concept Analysis – a Comparative Study. LSP Journal 1 (1): 4-12. Retrieved from: http://rauli.cbs.dk/index.php/lspcog/article/viewFile/2970/3051