1. Eldor Yunusmetov, assistant of the Department of “Emergency Medical Care and Nursing”, JSC “South Kazakhstan Medical Academy”, Shymkent, Kazakhstan.
  2. Jurgita Gulbiniene, PhD, Nursing Faculty, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania.
  3. Olga Riklikiene, Professor, Nursing Faculty, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania.



Aim: the aim of this essay was to discuss the Katharine Kolcaba Comfort Theory in relationship to nursing care at the emergency state and during stressful situations.

Methods: a theoretical-reflective essay, conducted in a dialectical process between relevant literature, theoretical framework and personal reflection.

Results: K. Kolkaba described comfort as an immediate state of being strengthened by having the needs for ease, relief, transcendence. These needs are expressed and met in four contexts: physical, psychospiritual, environmental and sociocultural experience. Application of Comfort theory in clinical practices help to identify comfort needs in stressful health care situations not only for patients but also for health care professionals.


Keywords: Katherina Kolcaba, Comfort Theory, Nursing theory





Nursing theories are increasingly applied in various nursing research studies. Each nursing theory has been developed based on scientific evidence and presents a variety of patient care strategies and approaches. This essay discusses the practical application of Katharine Kolcaba’s theory of comfort in nursing practice and research.

Katharine Kolcaba has worked in the field of medical and surgical care for many years. While studying at the school of nursing, she worked as a senior nurse in the department for the mentally ill patients. In the context of this experience, she began to theorize about the results of comfort. In 1994, K. Kolcaba developed a Comfort theory based on the care that was observed or provided [1]. Comfort theory has become popular due to its simplicity and has been successfully applied in various fields of activity [2].

  1. Kolcaba defines comfort by three types of comfort needs (relief, ease, transcendence). Reliefis the experience of having a comfort need met. Ease is the experience of care that promotes calm and/or contentment. Transcendence is a unique experience that occurs when a person can rise above pain or difficulties [1, 5]. There are four areas in which the human experiences comfort: physical, psychospiritual, environmental and sociocultural social. Physical comfort is affected by bodily sensations, symptoms, and homeostasis. Psychospiritualrefers to self-esteem, self-concept, sexuality, life meaning, and relationship to a higher power. Interpersonal, sociocultural, and family relationships constitute sociocultural comfort [3]. Environmental is the one that pertains to the external world human experience (temperature, light, sound, colour etc.) [1,5].

Comfort always been a central concept and task in nursing, and this is especially important in determining the nature of nursing knowledge, discipline, and profession [4]. Kolcaba described comfort as an immediate state of being strengthened by having the needs for ease, relief, transcendence that are met in four contexts of experience (physical, psychospiritual, environmental, sociocultural) [ 4, 5].

Comfort theory has been tested in many research fields during the last decade such as: elderly patients care in nursing homes [6], patients care undergoing radiation therapy [7], postoperative care [8], patients care in the psychiatric setting [9] and others. All researchers have demonstrated that patient’s comfort during hospitalization is one of the central aspects of patient care. Therefore, nurses need to determine the level of comfort for each patient before planning a nursing care and applying nursing interventions.

Several researchers analysed the importance of comfort during a SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic [1, 3]. This pandemic has turned into an emergency that the modern nursing has not yet encountered. Most people hospitalized for COVID-19 required intensive care that affected the overall comfort of hospitalized patients, such as ineffective breathing, anxiety, fear about death, risk of loneliness, and disrupted family processes [3]. Albright [3] points out that during the COVID-19 pandemic nurses became the most important source for patient comfort on each comfort domain: physical, psychospiritual, environmental and sociocultural. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the comfort of healthcare professionals as well. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many doctors, nurses, and nursing assistants became infected with the virus, lived in isolation, and gradually returned to work. However, some of them suffered burnout and committed suicide [1]. Timothea Vo [1] analysed how a theoretical comfort system helps to alleviate the psychological effects of COVID-19 on front workers. The author pointed out that implementing the Kolcaba Comfort Theory for healthcare staff in their daily lives may act as a protective barrier to the negative effects of COVID-19 on mental health of professionals [1].

Katharine Kolcaba Comfort Theory has been successfully applied in different clinical nursing practices and nursing research. Application of Comfort theory in clinical practices help to identify comfort needs in stressful health care situations not only for patients but also for health care professionals.



  1. Timothea Vo, A Practical Guide for Frontline Workers During COVID-19: Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory. Journal of Patient Experience, 7(5), 635-639. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7705827/pdf/10.1177_2374373520968392.pdf
  2. Yazdi Kh., Ebrahimpour Z. A. 2021. Review of Kolcaba Comfort Theory of .Nursing. Yafteh, 23(1), 170-179. http://yafte.lums.ac.ir/article-1-3377-en.html
  3. Albright C. 2021. SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Hospitalization in Light of Kolcaba’s Theory of Comfort in Nursing: A Literature Review. Journal of Nursing and Practice, 4(2), 345-350. DOI: 10.36959/545/404
  4. Pinto S., Fumincelli L., Mazzo A., Caldeira S., Martins J.C. 2017. Comfort, well-being and quality of life: discussion of the differences and similarities among the concepts. Porto Biomed J, 2(1), 6-12. doi: 10.1016/j.pbj.2016.11.003.
  5. Marlaine C. S., Marilyn E. P. 2015 Nursing theories and nursing practice 4th edition; F. A. Davis Company
  6. Yücel Ş.Ç., Arslan G.G., Bagci H. 2020. Effects of Hand Massage and Therapeutic Touch on Comfort and Anxiety Living in a Nursing Home in Turkey: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Relig Health. 59(1), 351-364. doi: 10.1007/s10943-019-00813-x.
  7. Pehlivan S., Kuzhan A., Yildirim Y., Fadiloglu C. 2016. Comfort and quality of life in patients with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy. 21(3), 549-555.
  8. Qian, Zhou J., Huang T., Xingye Cao X., Zhou C., Yang M., Yan Chen Y. 2021. Comfort nursing can alleviate pain and negative emotion of patients after surgery for LVCFs and improve their living ability. Am J Transl Res,13(4):2939-2946
  9. Parks M.D., Morris D.L., Kolcaba K., Patricia E. 2017. An evaluation of patient comfort during acute psychiatric hospitalization. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care. 53(1), 29-37. doi: 10.1111/ppc.12134.