Peplau’s Middle-Range Theory of Interpersonal Relations

Topic: Nursing
Words: 559 Pages: 2

Peplau’s middle-range theory of interpersonal relations was developed to help improve nurses’ relations with patients. Peplau emphasized the importance of patients’ experiences, “their needs, and their perceptions about the care they received from nurses” (Hagerty et al., 2017, p. 2). To be successful, the relationships between a nurse and a patient must pass through three phases: orientation, working, and termination.

During the first phase, a nurse changes the position of a stranger to a caregiver. The second phase is associated with the time nurses spend with their clients, communicating with them and practicing “nondirective listening” (Hagerty et al., 2017, p. 3). The termination phase’s success depends on the success of the previous stages and is identified with discharge planning. In such a way, a nurse is continually growing through interpersonal relations, successfully fulfilling the roles of a stranger, resource person, teacher, leader, surrogate, and counselor (Peterson & Bredow, 2013, p. 145). Thus, the role of a nurse is to develop trusting and respectful relationships with their patients to attain positive health outcomes.

Peplau’s theory might have derived from Nightingale’s grand theory of nursing. According to Nightingale’s environmental theory, the main principles of nursing were “healing, leadership, and global action” (Riegel et al., 2021, p. 3). Although Nightingale focused on the role of a healthy environment in a patient’s wellbeing, she emphasized the importance of healthy relationships between a nurse and a patient too. Thus, a nurse taught patients and their relatives how to create a clean and healthy atmosphere, prevent illnesses and complications, and provide quality care. Similarly, Peplau asserted that patients’ hospital experience, including room cleanliness, pain management, and room quietness, had a great impact on their health outcomes (Hagerty et al., 2017). One can see that both theories are interrelated and can be used in nursing practice, supplementing each other.

The critical nature of the connection between conceptual models of nursing and middle-range nursing theories is that theories derive from these conceptual models. Since middle-range theories are more detailed and specific than grand theories, their function is to narrow and clarify the phenomena defined in a conceptual model. Moreover, nursing theories provide concrete and thorough explanation and interpretation of abstract situations, behaviors, and events described in a conceptual model.

Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relationships addresses several nursing questions. First, it replies to the following question: how does the relationship between a nurse and a patient impact patient’s health outcome? The theorist emphasized the role of communication and interviewing skills in nursing and explained the nurse’s role in health care. Moreover, the theory addresses the question of interaction between nurses and patients, teaching nurses how to communicate with patients and educate them to take care of themselves without a health provider’s help.

Peplau’s theory is applicable to my current practice because it focuses on the relationships between nurses and patients, which are crucial to nursing. I am confident that being a nurse is not only giving medications or providing wound care for patients. It is also about creating trustful relations with patients and helping them to take care of themselves. Nurses should teach clients to practice self-care so that they can preserve health and prevent complications of diseases after being discharged from the hospital. Peplau’s theory helps better understand nurse-patient relationships and demonstrates how to attain the best results during each phase of the development of these relations.


Hagerty, T. A., Samuels, W., Norcini-Pala, A., & Gigliotti, E. (2017). Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relations: An alternate factor structure for patient experience data? Nursing Science Quarterly, 30(2), 160-167. Web.

Peterson, S. J., & Bredow, T. S. (2013). Middle range theories: Application to nursing research (3rd ed.). Wolters Kluwer Health.

Riegel, F., Crossetti, M. G. O., Martini, J. G., & Nes, A. A. G. (2021). Florence Nightingale’s theory and her contributions to holistic critical thinking in nursing. Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem, 74(2), 1-5, Web.

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