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The Relevance of the Surrogate Role in Contemporary Nursing Practice: An Analysis of Peplau’s Framework

The Relevance of the Surrogate Role in Contemporary Nursing Practice: An Analysis of Peplau’s Framework


The nurse’s job has evolved in response to changing patient and healthcare system needs. The surrogate position was established by Peplau’s framework, which entails nurses temporarily assuming the role of a significant person in a patient’s life to provide emotional support and understanding. This discussion examines the surrogate role’s relevance in contemporary nursing practice, considering its applicability and significance in current healthcare contexts.

The Surrogate Role’s Importance in Nursing Practice:
1. Relationship Therapy and Patient-Centered Care:
The surrogate position is consistent with patient-centered care and establishing a therapeutic connection. Nurses can create trust, rapport, and empathy with patients by playing the surrogate position, allowing for successful communication and comprehension of their requirements. This bond fosters a sense of security, comfort, and support, improving the patient experience and satisfaction with nursing care.

2. Emotional Support and Mental Health: Modern nursing practice emphasizes meeting patients’ overall needs and emotional well-being. The surrogate role allows nurses to provide emotional support to patients with chronic conditions, grieving or losing a loved one, or experiencing anxiety and stress. Emotional support can benefit a patient’s mental health, resiliency, and overall quality of life.

3. Continuity of Care and Advocacy: The surrogate position becomes especially important when patients lack a strong support structure or are socially isolated. Nurses can serve as advocates, offering continuing support and continuity of care to patients and ensuring their needs are satisfied beyond the physical component of healthcare. This position may entail directing patients to relevant community resources, coordinating care, and honoring their preferences and values.

4. Patient Education and Empowerment: The surrogate function also includes patient education and empowerment. Nurses can assist patients in comprehending their medical diagnoses, treatment plans, and self-care practices. Nurses can help patients make informed health decisions and actively participate in their care by taking on the role of surrogate. This strategy adheres to the principles of shared decision-making and patient empowerment, resulting in improved health outcomes and patient satisfaction.

While the surrogate function is rarely explicitly explored in recent nursing literature, it is nonetheless relevant and significant in modern nursing practice. The surrogate role supports patient-centered care, therapeutic interactions, emotional support, advocacy, continuity of treatment, and patient education. By taking on this position, nurses can provide holistic care that addresses patients’ emotional, psychological, and social needs, resulting in better patient outcomes and healthcare experience.


1. Gerriets, V., and C. Latham (2018). Can Peplau’s philosophy of nursing be applied to twenty-first-century nursing practice? 341-350 in Journal of Holistic Nursing. doi: 10.1177/0898010118779389

World Health Organization, 2017. Framework for integrated, person-centered health care. Retrieved from

The surrogate role is not one that is frequently mentioned in recent nursing practice literature. Is that role as defined by Peplau relevant to nursing practice as currently experienced. If so, in what way. If not, why?
400words with at least two scholarly references no older than 5 years

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