Katharine Kolcaba

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Katharine Kolcaba
Nationality United States
Known for Nursing theory
Scientific career
Fields Nursing

Katharine Kolcaba (born December 28, 1944) is an American nursing theorist and nursing professor. Kolcaba is responsible for the Theory of Comfort, a mid-range nursing theory that has been implemented at the institutional level.[1]


Kolcaba earned a nursing diploma from St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing in 1965. She earned a Master of Science in Nursing from Case Western Reserve University in 1987 and a PhD from the same school in 1997.[2]


Kolcaba's nursing background included work in the operating rom, medical/surgical nursing, home health and long-term care. She became interested in comfort as a theoretical construct while working on a unit for dementia patients.[3] While the concept of comfort was as old as the nursing profession, Kolcaba's theory turned it into a measurable entity with defined supporting features.[4] The Theory of Comfort considers the concepts of relief, ease and transcendence across four dimensions - physical, psychospiritual, sociocultural and environmental.[5] The juxtaposition of the three levels of comfort and four contexts of comfort is referred to as the “Taxonomic Structure of Comfort”.[6] Using the taxonomic structure as a tool allows researchers to easily apply the theory in their specialty to operationalize the idea of comfort.

Kolcaba is Associate Professor Emeritus at University of Akron. She holds an adjunct position at Ursuline College.[2]

Awards and honors[edit]

2007: Distinguished Alumni Award, The Cleveland General and St. Luke's Nurses' Alumni Association[2]
1994–Present: Who's Who in American Nursing[2]

Scope of Theory[edit]

The Comfort Theory (CT) is a broad-scope middle range theory because it contains concepts and relationships, is adaptable to a wide range of practice settings and experiences, can be built from many sources and it can be tested and measured.[7] It also qualifies as a middle range theory because of its direct applicability to nursing practice. It is broad in the sense that it also considers nursing practice holistically, however the concepts of the theory can be used separately or in combination with each other in nursing practice settings.[7]


  • Kolcaba, K. (2010). Impaired Comfort. In B. Ackley & G. Ladwig (Eds.). Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: An evidence-based guide to planning care. (9th Edition)
  • Kolcaba, K. (2003). Comfort Theory and Practice: A vision for Holistic Health and Research. Springer Publishing Company.
  • Kolcaba, K (2001). "Evolution of the mid range theory of comfort for outcomes research". Nursing Outlook. 49 (2): 86–92. doi:10.1067/mno.2001.110268. 
  • Kolcaba, K (1994). "A Theory of Comfort for Nursing". Journal of Advanced Nursing. 19: 1178–1184. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.1994.tb01202.x. 


  1. ^ March, A; McCormack, D (Mar–Apr 2009), "Nursing theory-directed healthcare: modifying Kolcaba's comfort theory as an institution-wide approach", Holistic Nursing Practice, 23 (2): 75–80, doi:10.1097/hnp.0b013e3181a1105b, PMID 19258847 
  2. ^ a b c d "More About Me". Comfort Line. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Sitzman, Kathleen; Eichelberger, Lisa Wright (2015). Understanding the Work of Nurse Theorists. Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN 9781284113112. 
  4. ^ Snowden, Austyn; Donnell, Allan; Duffy, Tim (2014). Pioneering Theories in Nursing. Andrews UK Limited. ISBN 9781856424806. 
  5. ^ Masters, Kathleen (2013). Role Development in Professional Nursing Practice. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 73. ISBN 9781449681982. 
  6. ^ Kolcaba, Katharine (2001-03-01). "Evolution of the mid range theory of comfort for outcomes research". Nursing Outlook. 49 (2): 86–92. doi:10.1067/mno.2001.110268. ISSN 0029-6554. 
  7. ^ a b Kolcaba, K (2001). "Evolution of mid-range theory of comfort for outcomes research". Nursing Outlook. 49(2): 86–92.