King’s General Systems Framework Theory

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King’s General Systems Framework Theory

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King’s General Systems Framework Theory

James Madison UniversityNSG 463Ashley Simon


Imogene King, RN, MSN, Edd, FAAN

Born: January 30, 1923 in West Point, IowaThe youngest of three childrenDied: December 24, 2007 in Saint Petersburg two days after suffering from a stroke. ¹


Imogene King’s education

1945-Completed her diploma in nursing education at St. John’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri1948-Received her BS in Nursing from St. Louis University1957-Obtained her MS in Nursing from St. Louis University1961-Obtained her Doctorate in Education(Ed.D.) from Teacher’s College in Columbia University, N.Y.¹1971- Published “Toward a theory of nursing: general concepts of human behavior”1980-Honoary Ph. D from Southern Illinois UniversityPostdoctoral study in research design, statistics and computer²


King’s Experience

Practiced as an office nurse, staff nurse, school nurse, nurse educator, and nurse administratorAdministrator at Ohio State UniversityEducator at St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, Loyola University, and the University of South FloridaAdult Medical-Surgical Nursing PractitionerAssistant chief of the Research Grants Branch, Division of Nursing, Department of Health, Education and WelfareProfessor emeritus at the University of South Florida³


Imogene King Cont’d

Formulated her theory while she was an associate professor at Loyola University in Chicago³ “A search for literature in nursing and other behavioral science fields, discussion with colleagues, attendance at numerous conference, inductive and deductive reasoning, and some critical thinking about the information gathered, lead me to formulate my own theoretical framework.”During this time nursing was emerging as a profession and some sought to challenge the existing role of nurses.


Journey towards the Theory

According to King humans have three fundamental needsInformation on health that can be accessed and utilizedCare that aims to prevent illnessCare in times of need or illness²

In 1981 King refined her concepts into a nursing theory that consisted of:1. An open system framework as the basis of goal attainment2. Nursing as a major system within the health care system3. Nursing process emphasis on interpersonal processes⁴Used a “systems” approach in the development of her Dynamic Interacting Systems Framework and in her subsequent goal attainment theory.


Journey Cont’d

Interacting Systems Framework included three systems:Personal System-the individualInterpersonal System -individuals interacting with one anotherAnd Social system-groups of people in a community or society sharing common goals, interests and values.³King studied the systems as a whole rather than as isolated parts


Systems framework

The three systems included:Personal system concepts includes: coping, spirituality, perception, self, body image, growth and developmentInterpersonal system concepts includes: interaction, communication, transaction, role, stress and copingSocial system concepts includes: organization, authority, power, status, and decision making⁵In order to identify problems and establish goals, the nurse and patient has to perceive one another, act and react, interact, and transact.


Theory of Goal Attainment

Describes the importance of the participation of all individuals in decision making as well as choices, alternatives, and outcomes of nursing care. It pertains to the importance of interaction, perception, communication, transaction, self, role, stress, growth and development, time, and personal space. Reflects King’s belief that the practice of nursing is differentiated from other healthcare professions by what nurses do with and what they do for individualsThe nurse and patient/client communicates information in order to set goals mutually and then acts to attain those goals.


Seven Hypothesis in goal attainment

Perceptual congruence in nurse-patient interactions increases mutual goal settingsCommunication increases mutual goal setting between nurses and patients which leads to satisfactionSatisfaction in nurses as well as patients increases goal attainmentGoal attainment decreases stress and anxiety in nursing situationsGoal attainment increases patient learning and coping in nursing situationsRole conflict experienced by nurses, patients, or both decreases transactions in nurse-patient interactionsCongruence in role expectations and role performance increases transactions in nurse-patient interactions.⁵


Putting the theory to use

King believed that if nursing students are taught the theory of goal attainment and it is used in nursing practice, then goal attainment can be measured and the effectiveness of nursing care can be demonstrated. This theory focuses on all aspects of nursing process: assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation. King believed that a nurse must assess in order to set mutual goals, plan to provide alternative means to achieve goals, and evaluate to determine if the goal was reached. ³


Putting the theory to use cont’d

It is useful in nursing practice to create individualized plans of care while encouraging active participation from clients in decision makingOne current way in practice of doing this is Bedside report-this allows for the patient to interact and know their plan of care during the stay at the hospital. This theory has also been used fro curriculum design in nursing programs and used as frameworks for books. ³It provides a systematic means of viewing nursing as a profession, organizing a body of knowledge for nursing, and clarifying nursing as a discipline.


Theory Analysis

Not a perfect theory but easily understoodClear and conceptual defined from research literature at the time of developmentSome has critiqued the theory to have limited application to nursing especially in patients who are unable to competently interact with the nurse.KING’S RESPONSE TO CRITIQUE 70% of communication is non-verbalIt is impossible for a theory to address every person, event, and situation⁴



King presented an open systems framework from which she derived a theory of goal attainment. The framework consists of 3 systems including personal, interpersonal, and social.The major concepts of the theory are interaction, communication, transaction, role, stress, growth and development, space and time.This theory is useful, testable, and applicable to nursing practice, although it is not a perfect theory.


King’s Theory Applied in current practice

In current practice the use of this theory relies on participation of both the nurse and the patient for effectivenessIt can be used in most any practiceReviewing the patient’s plan of care and providing the patient with information as well as education each dayProviding the patient with options for their plan of careKeeping the patient “in the loop” during their process of careMaking decisions with the patient rather than for the patient Bedside report is a good start to this theory.



1. Texas Woman’s University (2014). Nursing Theorist. Retrieved from George, J.B. (Ed.) (2008). Nursing theories: the base for professional nursing practice. Upper Saddle River, N.J.:Prentice Hall.3- Retrieved from: Nursing theories. (2008). Retrieved October 2, 2014 from Blais, K. & Hayes, J. (2011). Professional nursing practice: concepts and perspectives. Boston: Pearson.

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