Shepherding: A concept analysis

Publication Date


UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Nursing

Document Type



Health Services Administration | Nursing


The purpose of this analysis was to explore the concept of shepherding as it applies to nursing. Shepherding is a term used in chaplaincy literature to describe the guidance and protection a chaplain offers. While this term may be appropriate to the relational work of nurses, it has yet to be defined in the nursing literature. Walker and Avant's eight-step method for concept development was utilized. An electronic search using "shepherd/shepherding and nursing or health or inpatient" was performed in eight databases related to nursing, medicine, health, social sciences, and chaplaincy. Scholarly articles, in English, with substantive references to shepherding were included. Four defining attributes related to shepherding were identified: relational interaction, safety and comfort, reciprocal guidance, and transformation through possibilities and actualization. The operational definition of shepherding was thus identified as a relational interaction between the nurse and a patient or family during a transformational crisis. The nurse accompanies the patient, ensuring safety, and comfort and, through reciprocal guidance, the nurse supports the patient to understand possibilities and actualize possibilities based on the patient's preferences.


concept analysis, disciplinary focus, relationship, shepherding, theory

DOI of Published Version



Tehan TM. Shepherding: A concept analysis. Nurs Forum. 2019 Dec 22;10.1111/nuf.12422. doi: 10.1111/nuf.12422. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 31867723. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Nursing forum

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID