Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory and Duffy’s Quality Caring Model

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Modern healthcare is steadily moving from hospital-centered care and towards an emphasis on the patient’s experiences, to having them fully participating in the process of healthcare (Kelly et al., 2018). With that in mind, new models of nursing and care are becoming increasingly prominent. The concept of comfort is very important in the successful practice of medicine, as the absence of such is associated with decreased healthcare outcomes. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory (KCT) about Duffy’s Quality Caring Model (QCM).

Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory

KCT was developed by Kolcaba in 1994 as a derivative of Watson’s theory of human care. It explains comfort as one of the fundamental needs in a patient, describing it as a need for relief and transcendence over pain and any other factors deemed stressful (Alligood, 2017). Its importance comes not only from the physical and spiritual wellness that it brings but also from the ability to enhance health-restoring behaviors (Alligood, 2017). Thus, bringing comfort to patients is deemed as one of the nurse’s main prerogatives as part of holistic care.

Due to the theory’s association with Watson’s theory of care, it successfully identifies all four elements of the nursing paradigm. Comfort can relate to various aspects of care, including physical, spiritual, socio-economic, and environmental aspects of such (Alligood, 2017). Reducing tension in these areas is associated with improved healthcare outcomes, greater degrees of nurse-patient trust, and the reduction of harmful health effects (Alligood, 2017). At the same time, the achievement of comfort in a patient is considered one of the factors in successful nursing interventions.

It is possible to see how KCT became increasingly popular in various nursing settings. The achievement of comfort is particularly useful when providing long-term or terminal care, in diseases that are either extremely painful or impossible to cure. In those situations, the effectiveness of treatment is, in many ways, determined by the levels of comfort achieved in a patient (Alligood, 2017). In terminal diseases, in particular, patients often prefer comfort to the effectiveness of prolonging one’s life, if all it means is extending their pain and suffering.

Duffy’s Quality Caring Model

Duffy’s Quality Caring Model stems from the same source as KCT, borrowing heavily from Watson’s theory of care. The emphasis of the model is on making the patient feel cared for, which is said to improve nursing outcomes while reaffirming positive emotional rewards for nurses (Alligood, 2017). As a result, all parties achieve comfort, which connects Duffy’s QCM with KCT, at least on a conceptual level.

QCM focuses on nursing-patient relationships, involving 8 caring factors, which include collective problem-solving, improving the environment, reassurance, respect, encouragement, appreciation of patient uniqueness, addressing specific and basic human needs (Alligood, 2017). Trust and comfort are achieved because of the mutual experiences between a patient and a nurse. Feelings of satisfaction in nurses stem from these achievements, improving organizational commitment, and the desire to stay in the profession.

The implicit connection between the theory and the model becomes apparent when one perceives the application of both in practice. KCT acts as an overarching theory, formulating the basic motives and tenets of nurse operation. QCM, on the other hand, provides a model of operation between family, nurses, and patients, ensuring the continuity of care between different stakeholders.


KCT and QCM provide comfort and care to patients. They are the natural developments from Watson’s theory of care, therefore share numerous similarities. It is possible to apply both alongside each other in a healthcare setting. KCT and QCM are best used in geriatric, long-term, and terminal care.


Alligood, M. R. (2017). Nursing theorists and their work. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Kelly, M., Dowling, M., & Millar, M. (2018). The search for understanding: The role of paradigms. Nurse Researcher, 25(4), 9-13.

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