Transitions: A Central Concept in Nursing

Karen L. Schumacher, Afaf lbrahim Meleis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

526 Scopus citations


Transition is a concept of interest to nurse researchers, clinicians, and theorists. This article builds on earlier theoretical work on transitions by providing evidence from the nursing literature. A review and synthesis of the nursing literature (1986–1992) supports the claim of the centrality of transitions in nursing. Universal properties of transitions are process, direction, and change in fundamental life patterns. At the individual and family levels, changes occurring in identities, roles, relationships, abilities, and patterns of behavior constitute transitions. At the organizational level, transitional change is that occurring in structure, function, or dynamics. Conditions that may influence the quality of the transition experience and the consequences of transitions are meanings, expectations, level of knowledge and skill, environment, level of planning, and emotional and physical well‐being. Indicators of successful transitions are subjective well‐being, role mastery, and the well‐being of relationships. Three types of nursing therapeutics are discussed. A framework for further work is described

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalImage: the Journal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • nursing model
  • nursing theory
  • transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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