How to write a concept analysis paper in nursing


As a nursing student, you will be assigned a concept analysis paper assignment at some point. While it is a complex paper, you will enjoy writing it if you do it well. We show you how to write an A-level concept analysis paper in this article or guide for nursing students and practicing nurses.

This guide includes examples to help you write a concept analysis paper, even if it is your first time. It was created by expert nursing writers who have written several concept analysis papers for our growing nursing student clientele.

Students who ordered model concept analysis papers improved their performance and knowledge. Because the samples are written from scratch, they are entirely plagiarism-free. They are also written from scratch based on research, citation of recent scholarly sources, and the instructions.

We also collaborate with nurse educators to create unique, well-cited, well-organized examples of concept analysis papers. As you read, keep in mind that the guide was compiled by experts in the nursing field, particularly nursing research.

At this point, all we can say is good luck with every step you take and the decision you make after reading this guide.

What is a concept analysis paper?

Let’s start with a concept definition. Concepts are defined as the fundamental building blocks of the theory construction process. Concepts have distinguishing attributes or characteristics that set them apart from other concepts. They are mental constructions and attempts to order our environmental stimuli meaningfully.

Concept analysis refers to the examination of the structure and function of a concept. It is a formal, rigorous, and precise linguistic exercise used to determine the defining attributes of a concept.

A concept analysis paper investigates a topic in nursing education, administration/management, or practice. A concept analysis essay, assignment, or paper includes a review of literature from various disciplines related to the study of the chosen concept. The review of literature aids in clarifying the meaning of the concept you’ve chosen.

The significance of concept analysis

Concept analysis is the process of examining or evaluating/deconstructing the essential elements that comprise a concept. It is employed to:

  • Distinguishing a concept from similar concepts
  • Determining a concept’s internal structure
  • Refining ambiguous concepts in a theory
  • Clarifying overused, vague, or confusing concepts prevalent in nursing practice for consistency in interpretation and use
  • Obtaining a precise operational definition that increases the construct’s validity. Furthermore, it aids the theorist or researcher develop hypotheses and statements that reflect conceptual relationships.
  • Creating research instruments, measurement tools, or interview guides before conducting actual research
  • Creating a standardized language for use in nursing practice
  • Clarifying nursing terms that have become catchphrases and have lost their meaning
  • A valuable tool for developing nursing language
  • A valuable tool for instilling good thinking practice

How long should a concept analysis paper be?

A concept analysis paper can be as long as eight pages. However, most students who have used our website to get help writing concept analysis papers have requested papers that are 10-15 pages long. The title page, reference list, and appendices are not included in the length of the paper.

When writing concept analysis papers, most instructors recommend breaking them down into three steps. The concept choice paper, which can be two pages long, is usually the first. The instructor will then provide feedback on the concept.

The second is a concept analysis outline, including an introduction via a literature review. In this case, the student employs peer-reviewed scholarly nursing sources formatted in APA format. The concept analysis outline counts for a portion or percentage of your concept analysis paper’s grade. Some instructors treat the concept proposal and outline as one.

The concept draft analysis, a complete version of the concept paper, is the second section. It is a rough or first draft of a nearly finished paper formatted in APA. The last one is the final paper, which accounts for most of your concept analysis paper’s grade.

9 Steps to Writing an Outstanding Concept Analysis Paper

The following are the most commonly used concept analysis procedures in nursing schools and research.

1.         Select a concept

When selecting a concept, you should exercise extreme caution. It is critical to select a concept that interests you, is related to your work, has been bothering you for a long time, or fits your specialization.

Consider your area of interest or topic when selecting concepts.

  • Select a concept critical to your needs and on which everything else is dependent. Next, select a concept that will be important in the next stage of your research. To do so, examine the concept’s significance, contexts, boundaries, and relevance to your work, a process known as concept isolation.
  • Choose a concept that you can manage.
  • Avoid primitive terms that can only be considered as an example;
  • Concentrate on a concept important in nursing administration/management, education, and practice; and
  • Avoid broad umbrella terms that encompass multiple meanings and can confuse your analysis.
  • Keep in mind that selecting a new concept can be both an avenue for exploration and a linguistic trap.
  • Unexplored concepts can be generated from nursing research studies, incomplete theories, and nursing practice.
  • Analyzing unexplored concepts broadens your knowledge and thinking
  • When selecting a concept, consult with your professor or instructor as you can quickly lose track of them.

Whatever you do, choose a concept critical in your research program or one that can further theoretical growth in your area of specialization or interest. Avoid trivial concepts that have no significant contribution to knowledge development.

2.         Determine the analysis’s purpose.

In most cases, the purpose of the analysis will be determined by the assignment prompt from class. This step informs you of where to focus your attention and what to expect in the end. You’re simply wondering, “What’s the point of this analysis?”

Understand why you have been assigned the concept analysis. This procedure assists you in developing the concept’s defining characteristics and discovering its applications. You can also distinguish between ordinary language and scientific language usage of the concept at this early stage. Finally, you create a preliminary operational definition, a research instrument or strategy, or you incorporate an existing theory.

3.         Investigate all of the concept’s applications.

You can use research materials, colleagues, available literature, and thesaurus to identify as many uses of your chosen concept as possible. You should not confine yourself to a single aspect of the concept. Instead, look for every aspect of the concept outside of nursing or medical literature. Consider both the implicit and explicit applications of your concept. This section requires you to conduct extensive research and reading.

Consider the common and scientific applications of your concept, and then refine the aspects of the concept that will be included in your analysis. For example, do you want to limit yourself to beneficial aspects of the nursing theory analysis paper, or do you want to consider everything?

You are taking into account all aspects of concept usage results in richer meanings. This should be your instinct at this point.

4.         Perform a Literature Review

As you investigate the nursing concept analysis paper ideas, you should consult the literature to help you support or validate your final choice of the defining attributes.

The literature review also provides evidence for your concept analysis. For example, if you’re discussing coping, consider its applications in psychology, mental health, and other fields.

Concentrate on non-nursing science literature such as clinical sociology, community psychology, nursing technology, geriatrics, law, and social work. The review of literature can be directly related to nursing research, or it can combine knowledge or evidence from other fields.

5.         Identify the concept’s characteristics

Identify the key elements or defining characteristics of your chosen concept in this step. Then, display the cluster of attributes associated with the concept.

Make a list of the traits that appear several times. The defining attributes are the methods you use to determine what the concept means and does not mean.

6.         Determine the model case

This is where you start building your analysis model with cases.

A model case illustrates how the concept is applied or used, demonstrating the concept’s distinguishing features. The key characteristics of the concept, the defining criteria, and at least one of the antecedents and consequences should all be included in a model case.

It is a true example or case study of the concept. It is a purely illustrative or paradigmatic example. Model cases can be real-life examples from literature or ones you create. They can be nursing examples or not, depending on your preferences.

Nursing model cases can help you understand a concept, but they can also obscure your objectivity about its meaning. Also, remember that some concepts are easier to develop a case for than others.

The model case can be examined first if you are familiar with a concept. You are sure of the concept’s instances. You can compare your experience to the concept’s defining characteristics. While working on your concept analysis paper, conduct a comparative reflection. Be as paradigmatic as possible when writing the model case.

7.         Recognize alternative/additional cases such as borderline, contradictory, invented, and illegitimate.

You should also look at other cases when building your concept analysis model. Be extra cautious because separating the defining attributes that closely represent the concept may be difficult due to overlap with some related concepts.

Examining cases that are not identical to the concept but are similar to it or contradict it aids in making better decisions about the defining characteristics with the best fit.

These additional or alternative cases assist you in determining what qualifies as a defining attribute for your concept and what does not. Cases can be borderline, connected, invented, contradictory, or illegitimate.

•       Borderline cases

refer to instances or examples that contain most of the concept’s defining characteristics but not all of them. Borderline cases, for example, may have most or all of the defining characteristics but are different from others, such as intensity of occurrence and length.

These cases contradict the concept under investigation in some way. The cases, on the other hand, help you see why the model is not inconsistent, which clarifies your thinking about the defining characteristics of the concept in question.

•       Related cases

refer to instances of concepts related to the concept of choice but lacking all of the defining attributes. They are analogous to the concept under consideration. They are also linked to the central idea. Related cases assist in understanding how the concept fits into a network of concepts that surrounds the concept under consideration. In the coping example, you can use conflict, achievement, adaptation, or stressful cases.

•       Contrast Cases

This is a clear example of not understanding the concept. Contrary examples aid in expressing something that is not the concept. In the case of pregnancy, a concealed pregnancy at a hospital, followed by an unexpected birth.

•       Invented Cases

refer to cases containing ideas outside our own experience. They have the feel of science fiction. They are helpful when delving into familiar concepts like love. Not all concepts necessitate the creation of new cases. There is no importance for an invented case if a concept is clear, and the model case and other cases can assist in analyzing the concept without confusion or ambiguity. You only do them for entertainment purposes

Finally, an illegitimate case illustrates the term being misused or out of context. For example, the terms covering and protection are improperly used in coping. When you come across a meaning entirely different from all the others, it is essential to consider the illegitimate cases. You may have one or two defining characteristics, but most do not apply to the concept at all. Attachment, for example, can mean sewing pieces of clothing together with a sewing machine that only has touch as a defining attribute and no other attributes. 

8.         Determine the causes and consequences.

Following identifying additional or alternative cases, you proceed to the antecedents and consequences. Unfortunately, most students ignore or lightly handle these two steps, costing them grades.

The antecedents and consequences provide valuable insights into the concept’s social contexts. Furthermore, you can use the insights to fine-tune your distinguishing characteristics. However, the antecedents are the events or incidents that must occur before the concept can occur. As a result, antecedents cannot be the defining characteristics of a concept.

Role conflict, the rigidity of time and place, the amount of activity prescribed by some roles, role accumulation, and which role demands must be met can all be antecedents of the concept of role strain. Antecedents in attachment can include distinguishing between external and internal stimuli. Antecedents for pregnancy can include fertility, ovulation, conception, gestation period, etc.

The events that must occur as a result of the concept are referred to as the consequences. They are the results of the concept you chose. Spirituality’s consequences, for example, can include religiosity, religiousness, creativity, peace, trust, self-transcendence, meaning in life, and health. Antecedents aid in identifying the underlying assumptions about the concept under consideration.

9.         Identify the empirical referents

When performing concept analysis, the final step is to define the empirical referents for the defining attributes. You might wonder how we can quantify the concept of its existence in real-world settings.

The empirical referents are the categories or classes of actual phenomena that demonstrate the existence or presence of a concept. Kissing, for example, is an empirical referent of the concept of affection. The ability to solve a problem under stress can be an empirical precursor to the concept of coping.

In many cases, defining attributes and empirical referents are the same. However, there are times when a concept and its defining characteristics are abstract. In this case, empirical referents must be defined.

It should be noted that empirical referents are not tools for measuring concepts. Instead, they serve to recognize or measure the distinguishing characteristics. Empirical referents help develop instruments linked to the concept’s theoretical foundation. Furthermore, they contribute to the instrument’s construct and content validity. Empirical referents also provide clinicians with an apparent, observable phenomenon that can aid in determining the existence of a concept with specific patients.

Nursing Concept Analysis Paper Format

a.     Introduction

Your paper’s introduction informs the reader about the purpose of the paper. Declaring the paper’s focus ensures that you capture the attention of your professor or instructor. Begin your concept analysis paper with an exciting hook.

You should then provide some context for the concept analysis. Using the literature, you can define concept analysis and explain its importance in nursing education here.

Make sure to define the term concept and explain why you chose it and how it applies to nursing research, education, practice, or administration.

b.     Literature Review

This is typically the longest part of your paper. Here, you identify the applications of the concept you have chosen. For example, if you’ve chosen the concepts of caring, compassion, system-based practice, or love, you should start by providing a dictionary definition. It can also be defined using lay sources followed by academic literature. Finally, look at Metropolitan State University’s sample concept analysis paper.

Examine what the nursing literature says about your topic or concept. After that, you should look into another two disciplines, psychology, law, or biology. Every piece of literature used in the literature review section should be from a scholarly peer-reviewed journal or textbook. Write a summary of each source before linking them to create a synthesis or analysis.

For example, if you are discussing the concept of compassion, you will need to review literature from nursing and two other disciplines, such as social work or psychology. To ensure relevance and timeliness, ensure the sources you’re using were published within the last five years. However, when referring to an old landmark piece of literature, such as a nursing theory or theorists, such as Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relationships or Jean Watson’s theory of human caring, you can use it.

Write an in-depth synthesis of the sources once you have your articles. You can compare and contrast findings, strengthen one author’s argument or refute it with another, or cleverly use the findings to express ideas about the concept. You can write down common findings, identify common themes, and synthesize the information. A nursing literature review is not a sample of a summary of the literature on a specific topic.

c.     Attributes Definition

Under defining attributes, you identify the defining attributes of your concept. This is the central point of your concept analysis. However, identify the cluster of attributes frequently associated with the specific concept that provide broad insights into the concept.

You might discover these concept characteristics as you read more on the concept or as you write your literature review. It is a list of distinguishing or defining characteristics similar to differential diagnoses in medicine. They assist you in distinguishing the occurrence of a specific phenomenon from another. For the best analysis, try to limit yourself to only a few attributes that distinguish the concept from other related concepts.

d.     The Concept’s Definition

In this section, write the definition that combines all the defining characteristics of your chosen concept. Your definition should be written in prose or narrative format, with one or two paragraphs.

e.     Cases

Make sure you have examples of the following types of cases for concept analysis: model, borderline, contrary, invented, and illegitimate cases.

Also, provide a rationale for why you chose a case study or why it meets the criterion. For example, when writing the model case, begin by defining what it means according to nursing literature before moving on to the model case and why it meets the model case criterion.

In each of the six cases of a concept analysis paper, you should be very specific and follow the example above.

f.      Case Study

The model case is a real-world application of the concept. It can include the concept’s critical attributes. To demonstrate the concept, including the model case’s specific defining attributes.

The model case ensures that you have the proper defining attributes.

  • Include all of the defining characteristics or attributes
  • Include all of the defining criteria
  • Include at least one antecedent and consequences

Borderline Case

Some of the defining attributes of the chosen concept are present in borderline cases, but not all of them. Ensure that each borderline case has a defining attribute identified and written in parentheses.

Begin by defining the term “borderline case,” then contextualize your situation.

  • Leave out the defining characteristics
  • Use the concept metaphorically
  • Include the antecedents and consequences

In the case of pregnancy, this could entail dealing with a concealed or ectopic pregnancy that a woman is unaware of, as well as the associated consequences and antecedents.

Case in Point

The related cases are those that are only related to the concept but lack the defining attributes. Although the related cases may contain the defining attributes, they may also contain other attributes frequently mistaken for the defining attributes of your concept of choice.

Related cases demonstrate ideas similar to the central concept but differ when thoroughly or closely examined. A close examination often clarifies what counts as defining attributes of the concept under consideration and what does not.

They should have their names and be identified with them in the analysis so that you can make sound decisions. You will also be able to provide insights into the surrounding concepts.

Case Ideation

Write an invented case based on the initial explanation. This could be a fictitious example of the coping concept. Consider going to another planet. The physiology of a person changes when they arrive. They start to exhibit supernatural abilities. For example, to survive, they begin to consume rocks. This is a perfect made-up scenario for coping.

Case of Illegitimacy

Write an illegitimate based on the explanation we provided earlier.

g.     Precursors and Consequences

The antecedents in this section are the required elements of events that occur before the concept occurs. Conversely, consequences are the events or outcomes that occur after the concept occurs or materializes.

They can’t be the same. Furthermore, they cannot be the concept itself. Instead, the two are events that occur before and after the concept materializes.

h.     Referents Empirical

You define how your concept is measured under empirical referents. As a result, it is critical to seek out two research tools on the concept. These should primarily be based on primary research.

Describe the researcher’s definition of the concept, as well as the purpose and structure of the measurement tool. You can also describe a study that used the tool, including the samples, purpose, methods, and critical findings. If you had envisioned it, this information would most likely come from the literature review section.

i.      Summary

This is the final section of the paper before the references. If your concept analysis paper includes an appendix, it becomes the third and final section.

Summarize the paper in this section. Any new information should be avoided. There will be no sequel, so don’t leave your readers hanging. Instead, use signal words to indicate the end or closure of your paper.

Template for a Concept Analysis Paper

When asked to write a 10-15 pages concept analysis paper, use the template below to format the pages and word count. We assume that by now.

  • Initialization (200 words)
  • Review of Literature (1000 words)
  • Attribute Definition (300 words)
  • Conceptual definition (300 words)
  • Display Case (200 words)
  • Extra/alternative Cases (1000 words))
    • Borderline Case
    • Related Case
    • Opposite Case
    • Illegitimate Case
    • Invented Case
  • Precursors and Consequences (300 words)
  • Empirical Relatives (300 words)
  • Summary/Conclusion (200 words)

Examples of Nursing Concept Analysis Papers

Nursing students typically write a concept analysis paper based on their area of specialization. If a student wishes to become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), they will select a one-word concept analysis paper such as family support.

Another student pursuing a career as a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MHNP) can select topics such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, trauma-informed care, or PTSD in war veterans, among others. Simultaneously, a student specializing in geriatric nursing could select a concept such as successful aging, aging in place, elderly abuse in-home care settings, end-of-life care, or any other aging-related concept relevant to nursing practice.

Another student interested in women’s health can choose concepts like postpartum depression, postpartum scar tissue massage, exclusive breastfeeding, Restless legs syndrome during pregnancy, nutrition for pregnant women, UTI during pregnancy, postpartum nutritional supplements, Mommy brain, Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), postpartum stroke, Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP), Vasospasms, Raynaud’s syndrome, Milk Bleb, Mastitis, or Perinatal maternal health.

You can look at nursing practice if you do not intend to go into practice. You could, for example, write a concept analysis paper on caring in nursing.

This list of concepts can help you generate ideas for concept analysis papers. They are the most appropriate topics for your concept analysis paper.

  • Burnout
  • Stress
  • Autonomy
  • Caregiver Abuse
  • Therapeutic Touch
  • Nursing Care
  • Nursing Career
  • Career Development
  • AIDS Education
  • Breathlessness
  • Pregnancy
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Illness
  • Stigmatization
  • Health Promotion Programs

Tips for Writing a Nursing Concept Analysis Paper

Here are some pointers to consider when writing your concept analysis paper. Remember that nursing writing is based on scientific principles. As a result, it must be critical, structured, and well-organized. To get the best grades on your paper, follow the advice below. R

  • Use scholarly and trustworthy sources.
  • Use website prefixes sparingly.
  • If a previously published work is an example of a concept analysis of your concept, use it only as an example. It should be used only to learn how to write your paper. If you lift word for word, you will be accused of plagiarism.
  • When writing your paper, never use colloquial expressions, informal language, or slang.
  • Write in your own words.
  • Include appropriate in-text citations in your paper.
  • Avoid making broad assumptions with no data or evidence to back them up.
  • Make sure to define facts based on the literature and then explain or extrapolate in each section of your concept paper.
  • You can define concepts such as concept analysis, defining attributes, model cases, borderline cases, etc.
  • Maintain an up-to-date reference list.
  • Cite all work that is not yours or common knowledge.
  • To organize your paper, use proper headings and subheadings.
  • For a smooth flow, use relevant transition words whenever possible.
  • Keep the number of words in a paragraph in check.
  • Use Times New Roman 12-point font with a 1-inch margin all around.


You now understand the steps of concept analysis after progressing this far. A concept analysis essay, research paper, term paper, journal article, or white paper are all simple to write. If you need assistance writing your concept analysis paper, our nursing writing service can help. We have professional writers who are also qualified, nurses.

Our nursing clients have expressed their satisfaction with our service 99 % of the time. For one thing, we let you communicate with your writer. You have the option of selecting a preferred writer. We value your confidentiality and privacy as well. You can be confident that the paper we provide you will never appear online or anywhere else.


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