Adolescence: A Concept Analysis

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Shirley E. Curtis, RN, BSN, MSN, RM
School of Nursing & Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to state what is meant by the term adolescence.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to discuss the importance of congruence in definition across disciplines to the practice and research of adolescence.


The purpose of this concept analysis is to (1) clarify the definition of the term , (2)explore its use in nursing  and (3) bring attention to the fact that adolescence is necessary for all disciplines to have shared understanding when addressing this period of development.


Walker and Avant (2005) is the strategy used to organize the framework of this concept analysis. Operational definitions were analyzed across disciplines. Similarities and differences were noted. Adolescence was further analyzed based on physiological, psychological and cognitive developmental tasks using the theories of Piaget and Erickson as the frame work for the analysis. CINAHL database was searched for other concept analysis related to adolescence (between 1998-2008) to examine the operational definitions within the discipline/profession of nursing.
Results: Within disciplines there are varying definitions and concepts of who or what is an adolescence. In nursing, of the 26 articles identified, 4 of them contained an operational definition of adolescence. There were also variations of definition within the field of nursing.

Adolescence is the science of the study of youth. There are three stages of adolescence; early (8.5-15 years), middle (14-17 years) and late (17-21 years). Each stage has separate physical, social/emotional and cognitive tasks. When discussing conditions or individuals during this developmental period, in literature or practice, there must be an operational definition to identify which stage of adolescence is being addressed. This concept should be congruent across disciplines.