Self-Transcendence and Chronic Sorrow Theories in Nursing

Theories and AACN Essentials I

AACN Essentials I guide advanced practice nurses (APNs) to use scientific findings from different fields to improve the quality of care in different healthcare settings. It is agreeable that AACN Essentials I is reflected clearly in Pamela Reed’s Self-Transcendence Theory and the Theory of Chronic Sorrow by Eakes, Burke, and Hainsworth. The Self-Transcendence Theory focuses on specific concepts such as self-transcendence, vulnerability, and wellbeing (Heredia & Sanchez, 2016). Nurses should, therefore, focus on non-linear and inherent development in order to be aware of the major dimensions in healthcare and eventually deliver evidence-based care. The theory supports the idea of quality improvement and the meta-paradigms of nursing in order to deliver competent care. The concept of self-transcendence, therefore, fulfills the requirements of AACN Essentials I.

The Theory of Chronic Sorrow provides a powerful framework that can be used to address the needs of patients in need of critical care. The use of evidence-based ideas and strategies can guide nurses to offer effective support (Whittingham, Wee, Sanders, & Boyd, 2013). In order to achieve this goal, nurses should engage in lifelong learning, identify new scientific findings, and promote the idea of continuous quality improvement (CQI). When such elements are embraced by APNs, it can be easier for them to fulfill the AACN Essentials I.

Using the Theories’ Concepts to Improve Practice

Advanced practice nurses (APNs) can translate the concepts presented in these two theories to improve patients’ health outcomes. Using the Self-Transcendence Theory, APNs can re-pattern the experiences of their patients using the self-transcendence concept. This means the interpersonal, temporal, and intrapersonal attributes will be integrated in order to understand life differently (Heredia & Sanchez, 2016). The knowledge will ensure the best evidence-based approaches are used to achieve wholeness or wellbeing. The approach should focus on the patient’s cultural expectations, developmental needs, and the surrounding environment. The theory guides nurses to be aware of personal attributes, such as notions of immortality and mortality (Iglehart, 2013). The nurse can use these concepts “to expand the boundaries of the patients and eventually result in wellbeing” (Heredia & Sanchez, 2016, p. 6).

Similarly, the Theory of Chronic Sorrow can guide APNs to bring together family members and other professionals to address the needs of the targeted patient (Olwit, Musisi, Leshabari, & Sanyu, 2014). The application of evidence-based concepts, promoting coping strategies in accordance with the individual’s needs, and monitoring various trigger events will result in a positive recovery plan (Ryff, 2014). The concepts of nursing and antecedents can be used to understand the unique issues that led to the health pattern. The next step is to re-pattern the patient’s situation or experience (Whittingham et al., 2013). Positive coping strategies should be presented to support the targeted individuals. New roles can be assumed in order to ensure comfort is realized.

Scholarly Article

The article “Promotion of Self-Transcendence in a Multiple Sclerosis Peer Support Groups” indicates that self-transcendence is a powerful process that can help patients with multiple sclerosis to achieve integrity and maintain a healthy state of wellbeing (Jadid-Milani, Ashktorab, Abed-Saeedi, & Alavi-Majd, 2014). The authors argue that positive practices such as peer support and interpersonal relationships can result in self-transcendence (Jadid-Milani et al., 2014). This approach promotes awareness and the ability to find new conceptions or meanings about life. The use of peer groups results in increased self-awareness and understanding of the surrounding environment. New behaviors such as sharing and acceptance of the challenges experienced in life, such as illness and death, emerge. That being the case, Pamela Reed’s Self-Transcendence can be used to promote acceptance and awareness.


Heredia, L., & Sanchez, A. (2016). Vulnerability to alcohol consumption, spiritual transcendence and psychosocial well-being: Test of a theory. Rev. Latino-Am. Enfermagen, 24(1), 1-8.

Iglehart, J. (2013). Expanding the role of advanced nurse practitioners: Risks and rewards. The New England Journal of Medicine, 368(1), 1935-1941.

Jadid-Milani, M., Ashktorab, T., Abed-Saeedi, Z., & Alavi-Majd, H. (2014). Promotion of self-transcendence in a multiple sclerosis peer support groups. Zahedan Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 16(5), 73-78.

Olwit, C., Musisi, S., Leshabari, S., & Sanyu, I. (2014). Chronic sorrow: Lived experiences of caregivers of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in Butabika Mental Hospital, Kampala, Uganda. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 29(1), 43-48.

Ryff, C. (2014). Psychological well-being revisited: Advances in the Science and practice of eudaimonia. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Journal, 83(1), 10-28.

Whittingham, K., Wee, D., Sanders, M., & Boyd, R. (2013). Sorrow, coping and resiliency: Parents of children with cerebral palsy share their experiences. Disability and Rehabilitation, 35(17), 1447-1452.

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NursingBird. "Self-Transcendence and Chronic Sorrow Theories in Nursing." April 28, 2021.