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Pamela Reed

Pamela Reed is a psychologist and nursing theorist who developed the Theory of self-transcendence, which is a framework for understanding how people cope with difficult life situations and enhance their wellbeing (, 2023).  In this article, we will understand Pamela G Reed’s life story and contribution to self-transcendence theory.

According to Reed (1991), self-transcendence is “expansion of self-conceptual boundaries multidimensionally: inwardly (e.g., through introspective experiences), outwardly (e.g., by reaching out to others), and temporally (whereby past and future are integrated into the present)” (p. 64). She later added another type of expansion: transpersonal expansion, which involves connecting with a higher power or a larger reality (Reed, 2015).

Reed’s theory posits that self-transcendence is a natural and desired developmental stage, which people must reach to be fulfilled and to have a sense of purpose (Psych-Mental Health Hub, n.d.). the theory has been applied to various nursing contexts, such as palliative care, chronic illness, ageing, and spirituality (, n.d.).

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Reed’s theory of self-transcendence offers a holistic and humanistic perspective on human development and well-being. It has also been tested empirically and has shown positive associations between self-transcendence and well-being, quality of life, hope, and coping (APA PsycNet, 2014).


Pamela Reed began her career as a staff nurse in psychiatric settings and later pursued her doctoral degree in psychology at the University of Arizona. She has been a professor of nursing at several universities, including the University of Arizona, where she is currently a professor emerita. She has published extensively regarding self-transcendence and its implications for nursing practice, education, and research (Reed, 2015).

Reed has also received several awards and honours for her contributions to the field of nursing, such as the Distinguished Researcher Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Western Institute of Nursing (self-transcendence Theory, n.d.).

Reed’s transcendence theory is one of the most widely adopted theories in nursing science and practice, as it provides a holistic and humanistic perspective on human development and health promotion (Reed et al., 2021).


Reed has published extensively on self-transcendence Theory, as well as on nursing metatheory, knowledge development, and innovation. Some of her notable publications include:

self-transcendence: A resource for healing at the end of life. Issues in Mental Health Nursing (2003)

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The paper by Reed (1996) explores the concept of self-transcendence as a resource for healing at the end of life. self-transcendence is defined as the process of expanding one’s boundaries of self and connecting with others, nature, and the transcendent. The author argues that self-transcendence can enhance wellbeing, wholeness, and integration among all dimensions of one’s being, especially in the face of serious illness, disability, or ageing.

The paper reviews clinical and empirical literature that supports the link between self-transcendence and healing, and suggests ways that nurses can facilitate self-transcendence in their practice. The paper also emphasizes the distinction between healing and curing, and proposes that self-transcendence can foster healing even when curing is not possible.

Nursing Knowledge and Theory Innovation: Advancing the Science of Practice (Reed & Crawford Shearer, 2021)

Nursing Knowledge and Theory Innovation, Second Edition is a book by Pamela G. Reed and Nelma B. Crawford Shearer that focuses on the science and philosophy of nursing knowledge development, with a special emphasis on theory as a tool in developing practice-relevant knowledge (Reed & Shearer, 2017).

The book provides strategies for scholarly practice as well as theories for students to develop or modify to fit into their own practice. The book also balances theoretical and philosophical ideas with practical perspectives and includes concrete examples of knowledge development in various nursing domains. The book aims to inspire nurses to advance the science of practice through innovative and creative approaches to nursing knowledge and theory (Reed & Shearer, 2017).

Health Promotion in Health care: Vital Theories and Research (Reed & Haugan, 2021).

This is an open access textbook that aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the field of health promotion and its application in health care settings. The book is intended for students and professionals in health care disciplines, such as nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, radiology, and social care, as well as for researchers and PhD students in health science and health promotion.

The book covers the historical and theoretical foundations of health promotion, such as the salutogenic model of health and the life orientation theory, as well as the practical aspects of implementing health promotion interventions in various contexts, such as hospitals, primary care, workplaces, schools, and communities.

The book also discusses the ethical, cultural, and political dimensions of health promotion, as well as the challenges and opportunities for future research and practice. The book is based on the latest scientific evidence and international perspectives, and offers insights from experts in different fields and regions. The book is a vital contribution to global health education and a valuable resource for anyone interested in promoting health and well-being in health care settings.

Reed has also conducted research on wellbeing and mental health across the lifespan, especially among Latino cancer caregivers (Hebdon et al., 2023).


APA PsycNet. (2014). self-transcendence theory.

Beck & C. Gudex (Eds.). Salutogenesis: Theoretical Foundations and Practical Applications (pp. 121-136). Cham: Springer.

Hebdon, M. C., Badger, T. A., Segrin, C., Crane, T. E., & Reed, P. (2023). Social and cultural factors, self-efficacy, and health in Latino cancer caregivers. Cancer Nursing, 46(3), E181-E191. (n.d.). self-transcendence theory.

Psych-Mental Health Hub. (n.d.). Pamela Reed’s theory of self-transcendence.

Reed, P. G. (2023). Theory of self-transcendence. In M. J. Smith & P. R. Liehr (Eds.), Middle range theory for nursing (5th ed., pp. 103-123). Springer Publishing Company.

Reed, P. G. (2015). Pamela Reed’s theory of self-transcendence. In M. Smith & M. Parker (Eds.). Nursing theories and nursing practice (4th ed.) (pp.411-420). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.

Reed, P. G., & Crawford Shearer, N. B. (Eds.). (2021). Nursing knowledge and theory innovation: Advancing the science of practice (2nd ed.). Springer Publishing Company.

Reed, P. G., & Haugan, G. (Eds.). (2021). Health promotion in health care: Vital theories and research. Springer.

Reed, P. G., & Shearer, N. B. C. (2017). Perspectives on nursing theory (7th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Reed, P. G. (1991). Toward a theory of self-transcendence: Deductive reformulation using developmental theories. Advances in Nursing Science, 13(4), 64-77.

Reed, P. G., Beck, A. M., Gudex, C., & Johansen, M. A. (2021). self-transcendence: A salutogenic Process for Well-Being. In A. M.

Reed, P.G. (2003). self-transcendence: A resource for healing at the end of life. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 24(6-7), 671-687. (2023). Pamela Reed – Self Transcendence. Retrieved from

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