What are the basic types and purposes of theory in relation to theory practice and research?

What are the basic types and purposes of theory in relation to theory practice and research?


There are four basic types of theories related to research and theory practice, including explanatory, descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive theories. The explanatory theories aim to explain the causal relationship between the different concepts (Watkins, 2020). Explanatory theories specifically explain to what extent a phenomenon occurs together and how the two are related and influence each other. They explain why or how components and properties are related with respect to cause and effect, relationships and other relationships that exist among the concepts.

Explanatory theories generally investigate and explain how a change in one concept has on other related concepts. An example of explanatory theory commonly used in public health research includes the precaution adoption process model and the theory of planned behavior (Bayoumi, 2018).

The descriptive theories do not explain the relationship between the components or concepts; rather, they identify the components and provide a detailed explanation such as naming the concepts, dimensions, and properties. The descriptive theory does not explain why or how the concepts are related or how a change in one of the concepts will influence or cause changes in other concepts. The predictive theories are typically the first level of theory development, and they focus on predicting the relationships that are likely to exist between components and the circumstances under which such relationships are likely to occur (Bayoumi, 2018). They are mainly used to predict the possible outcomes in a given situation. The prescriptive theories direct specific actions towards a set goal; they guide changes in practices and predict the consequences of changes. Prescriptive theories are mainly used to anticipate the outcomes of specific nursing interventions (Watkins, 2020).

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Bayoumi, M. (2018). Life style modification toward improving quality of life and effects on caregivers’ burden: development of new nursing theory. Ann Nurs Primary Care. 2018; 1 (1)1007. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Magda- /5bbb8ae992851c7fde3413e0/Life-Style-Modification-toward-Improving-Quality-of-Life-and-Effects-on-Caregivers-Burden-Development-of-New-Nursing-Theory.pdf

Watkins, S. (2020). Effective decision-making: applying the theories to nursing practice. British Journal of Nursing29(2), 98-101. https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/bjon.2020.29.2.98