Complex critical realism: Tenets and application in nursing research

Alexander M. Clark, Sue L. Lissel, Caroline Davis

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

    82 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim: To outline the main tenets of critical realism (CR), its use, and future application in nursing. Background: Little work has been done to discuss how CR can be applied to nursing research. Findings: The tenets of CR include recognition of reality independent of human perceptions, a generative view of causation in open systems, and a focus on explanations and methodological eclecticism using a postdisciplinary approach. Critical realism is useful for (1) understanding complex outcomes, (2) optimizing interventions, and (3) researching biopsychosocial pathways. Such questions are central to evidence-based practice, chronic disease management, and population health. Conclusions: Critical realism is philosophically strong and potentially useful for nursing research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)E67-E79
    JournalAdvances in Nursing Science
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Oct. 2008


    • Framework
    • Nursing research
    • Ontology
    • Philosophy
    • Realism
    • Realist
    • Theory


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