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Friday, 28 December 2012

Imogene King’s Goal Attainment Theory - Nursing Practice

Imogene King’s Goal Attainment Theory - Nursing Practice

Imogene King is the theorist who developed goal attainment theory of nursing. According to the theory, the patient and the nurse work together to set goals and work toward achieving these goals. King’s theory explains the basis in which nurses should act. The theory discusses the attainment of goals in an open system framework, with nursing as the major system in the larger health system and emphasis in nursing on the interpersonal processes. According to the theory, man is a reactive being aware of his environment. His responds to on what he perceives, expects and needs from the environment (King (1981), George, (2002).

Health is a dynamic process involving a patient’s life experience. The experience requires the patient to adjust to the internal and external environment stressors using the available resources (King, 1981).  A person with HIV/AIDS experiences many challenges from internal and external environments. The patient is a social being with three fundamental needs: need for health information, need for care in preventing illnesses and need for care when not in a position to help in his or her daily chores.

 The conceptual framework includes three interactive systems, which are personal system, interpersonal system and social system. Perception of body image, self, time and space influence behavior of people with HIV/AIDS. It is perception that determines how the patient is going to respond to external environment. The interpersonal system refers to the way individuals interact with each other. The concepts in the interpersonal system are interaction, communication, transaction, role and stress. Social systems refer to groups of individuals with a shared values, beliefs and goals. A social system provides grounds for interaction and relationships development. A nurse is part of the patient environment. (King, 1981)

The society has stigmatized people with HIV/AIDS by classifying the disease as a disgraceful one.  To change this, a nurse should employ a goal-oriented strategy in nursing such patients. While the patient offers self-knowledge and perception, the nurse should offer special skills and knowledge. It is the goal of the nurse to help the patient cope with the disease and the feeling of separation. A nurse should interpret the information received in the nursing process to plan and provide nursing care. The attempt to restore the self-esteem of a patient is a goal shared by both the nurse and the patient.

It is important that the nurse involve the patient in decision-making. The nurse should deal with the nursing care outcomes. The perception of the nurse and the patient will influence the interaction. Nursing process motivates the patient and the nurse in exchanging their views through sharing information (Williams, 2001). The nurse should persuade the family members to contemplate within their value system the consequences of the action they intend to take. Secondly, the nurse should assist the family in making decisions based on the information. Lastly, provide guidelines into the situations that can change and that cannot change.

In conclusion, King’s Goal Attainment Theory discusses man as a reactive being, making him respond to the environment. Communicating to the patient on what is happening and what is to happen lessens the anxiety that causes stress. The information will give the patient control in the personal, interpersonal and social system. Interpersonal communication is important as a sign of care no matter the situation of the patient.


Fawcett, J. (2000). Analysis and evaluation of contemporary nursing knowledge: Nursing models and theories. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.

George, J.B. (2002). Nursing Theories: The Base for Professional Nursing Practice. New Jersey, USA: Prentice Hall.

King, I.M. (1971). Toward a theory for nursing: General concepts of human behavior. New York: Wiley.

King, I.M. (1981). A theory for nursing: Systems, concepts, process. New York: Wiley.

Williams, L.A. (2001). Imogene King’s Interacting Systems Theory: Application in Emergency and Rural Nursing. Online Journal of Nursing and Health Care, 2(1), 25–30.

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