Imogene King’s Contribution to Nursing Theory: Theory of Goal Attainment, Research Paper Example


Many people who pursue that profession of nursing desires to be of the pivotal role in assisting the patients recover quickly. to achieve this, it is important to set health objectives with these patients and formulate steps of moving towards attainment of these objectives. In the patient family centered care, the health care efforts are fashioned to suit the requirements of the family in which a patient is born. Therefore, it is imperative to establish goals for the family, patient and healthcare provider to enhance successful implementation of this model. To help in examining this aspect of setting and working towards attaining objectives is Imogene King’s Theory of Goal Attainment (Messmer, 2007). The theory focuses on the processes guiding the nurses in their relationship with patients and assistance towards meeting the preset wellness goals.

Imogene King’s Contribution to Nursing Theory: Theory of Goal Attainment

Imogene King coined the theory of Goal attainment in 1960. The core concept of this theory concerns the fact that nurse, patient and the patient’s family members set goals together and go ahead to implement the necessary actions for the achievement of these goals. It expresses an interpersonal relationship allowing a person to develop towards attainment of certain goals in life. As postulated in the theory, roles, stress, time, and space affect the realization of these goals (Tomey& Alligood, 2006).

King’s theory perceives nursing as collection of action, interaction and reaction processes whereby nurses, patients and family members share information about their opinion towards a prevailing health condition. Thus, the focus of nursing spans beyond taking care of patients to encompass attainment of objectives set by all stakeholders.

According to Imogene, a patient is a social being with three elemental needs. Such needs include the need for health information, care for the prevention of illness, and assistance when the patient cannot help him or herself. She goes ahead to explain that health is an experience including the adaptation to stressors in both external and internal environment within the available means.  Internal environment generates energy to allow people adapt to the external environment. A nurse is considered as part of this environment.

King perceives that the nurse’s goal is helping patients in maintaining health in order to function in their own personal goals. The function of the nurse is the interpretation of information during the nursing process, planning, implementing and evaluating nursing care. The nurse-patient relationship allows the nurse to assess the patient using his/her knowledge and thereafter make a diagnosis. The diagnosis is followed by a plan of interventions designed to provide solutions to the problems identified during assessment and diagnosis. After creation of a care plan follows, implementation of actions intended to accomplish the health goals of the patient. The final step is the evaluation of patient for the nurse to find out whether the patient’s goals were achieved or not (Fawcett, 2001).

In the field of healthcare, the nurse-patient relationship’s ultimate goal is helping the patient accomplish his/her goals of becoming healthy. Therefore, the nursing process depicted in Imogene King’s Theory of Goal Attainment helps a nurse to be more effective when working together with a patient towards the achievement of these goals and consequently help patients.

Personal, interpersonal, and social systems in the theory are of paramount importance in determining whether the goals shall be achieved or not. All these systems are consistently dependent on relationships with family setting, thus, the theory of Goal Attainment is important successful implementation of Patient Family Centered Care model.




Fawcett, J. (2001). The Nurse Theorists: 21st-Century Updates—Imogene M. King. Nursing  Science Quarterly, 14(4), 311–315.

Messmer, P.R. (2007). Tribute to the Theorists: Imogene King Over the Years. Nursing Science  Quarterly, 20(3), 198.

Tomey, A. M. & Alligood, M. R. (2006). Nursing Theorists and their Work. (6th ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences.