Complex critical realism: Tenets and application in nursing research

Publication Date



Aim: To outline the main tenets of critical realism (CR), its use, and future application in nursing. Background: Little work has been done to discuss how CR can be applied to nursing research. Findings: The tenets of CR include recognition of reality independent of human perceptions, a generative view of causation in open systems, and a focus on explanations and methodological eclecticism using a postdisciplinary approach. Critical realism is useful for (1) understanding complex outcomes, (2) optimizing interventions, and (3) researching biopsychosocial pathways. Such questions are central to evidence-based practice, chronic disease management, and population health. Conclusions: Critical realism is philosophically strong and potentially useful for nursing research.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

This document is currently not available here.