Making sense of it: a neuro-interactional model of meaning emergence in critically ill ventilated patients

Publication Date


UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Nursing

Document Type



Health Services Administration | Nursing | Psychological Phenomena and Processes


Emphasis on meaning underpins a current thrust of knowledge development in nursing, especially in the client domain. Examination of meaning in the interactional context and through varying levels of consciousness has not been examined. Initially, an integrated model was developed deductively from philosophical, theoretical and research-oriented sources. This model was meant as a guide to begin examining how patients with varying levels of consciousness make sense of their intensive care unit experience. Over a 10-month period of fieldwork, this author observed patients twice daily through their intensive care unit stay to capture the nature and content of thinking processes. The resulting neuro-interactional model describes patients' thinking processes and scope of meaning as a function of levels of consciousness as well as factors which affect thinking and meaning. Theory, research and practice implications are presented.

DOI of Published Version



J Adv Nurs. 1996 May;23(5):896-903.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of advanced nursing

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PubMed ID