The Nurse as Advocate: A Grounded Theory Perspective

Sunday, 17 November 2013: 3:25 PM

Pennie J. Sessler Branden, PhD, CNM, MSN, RN
Nursing, Southern CT State University, New Haven, CT

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify the role of the nurse advocate.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to describe the characteristics and components of the Sessler Branden Advocacy Matrix Theory.


The nursing profession is entering an exciting time of new professional opportunities and is positioned to determine the trajectory of health care and policy as related to the global health crisis. However, nurses are underrepresented in major forums where they could be leaders for change.  Being a change agent could be accomplished through the nurse’s role as advocate for the patient, profession, and health policy. The aim of this research investigation was to increase the current knowledge about the nurse advocate role and its complexities, and to discover and explicate substantive theory about this role.


This investigation used the grounded theory methodology of Corbin and Strauss, including the philosophies of pragmatism and symbolic interactionism, to examine and discover the advocacy process as it informs the role of the nurse advocate. Thirteen peer-identified FAAN nurse leader/advocates were chosen purposively to form a varied and highly experienced study group. These participants were interviewed and their interview transcripts were used as the primary data sources in addition to the researcher’s field notes, memos and participants’ curriculum vita.


Transcripts were coded using open and axial coding techniques that allowed the emergence of a conceptual definition of advocacy, the core phenomenon to advocate and five categories and their subconcepts. The product was a unique advocacy matrix theory that the nurse can use to learn the skills of the advocacy process and to enhance leadership for the profession.


This study has contributed to the extant knowledge of the nurse as advocate and has explicated the role of the nurse advocate. This theory has bridged the existing knowledge with a substantive, pragmatic theory that can be applied and utilized by any nurse in any situation where advocacy is needed locally, nationally or internationally.