Sister Callista L. Roy


Sister Callista L. Roy (born October 14, 1939) is a nursing theorist, profession, and author. She is known for her groundbreaking work in creating the Adaptation Model of Nursing.

Education and Career

Roy received her Bachelor of Arts Major in Nursing from Mount Saint Mary’s College in Los Angeles in 1963 and her master’s degree in nursing from the University of California in 1966.

After earning her nursing degrees, Roy began her education in sociology, receiving both a master’s degree in sociology in 1973 and a doctorate degree in sociology in 1977 from the University of California.

During her time in working toward her master’s degree, Roy was challenged in a seminar with Dorothy E. Johnson to develop a conceptual model for nursing.

Roy worked as a pediatric nurse and noticed a great resiliency of children and their ability to adapt in response to major physical and psychological changes. Impressed by this adaptation, Roy worked towards an appropriate conceptual framework for nursing.

She developed the basic concepts of the model while she was a graduate student at the University of California from 1964 to 1966.

In 1968, she began operationalizing her model when Mount Saint Mary’s College adopted the adaptation framework as the philosophical foundation of the nursing curriculum.

Roy was an associate professor and chairperson of the Department of Nursing at Mount Saint Mary’s College until 1982 and was promoted to the rank of professor in 1983 at both Mount Saint Mary’s College and the University of Portland. She helped initiate and taught in a summer master’s program at the University of Portland.

Sr. Callista Roy. Photo: Boston College
Sr. Callista Roy. Photo: Boston College

She was a Robert Wood Johnson postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco from 1983 to 1985 as a clinical nurse scholar in neuroscience. It was during this time  she conducted research on nursing interventions for cognitive recovery in head injuries and on the influence of nursing models on clinical decision making.

In 1987 to present, Roy began the newly created position of resident nurse theorist at Boston College School of Nursing where she teaches doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate students.

In 1991, she founded the Boston Based Adaptation Research in Nursing Society (BBARNS), which would later be renamed the Roy Adaptation Association.

Roy’s other scholarly work includes conceptualizing and measuring coping and developing the philosophical basis for the adaptation model and for the epistemology of nursing.

Roy belongs to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

Adaptation Model of Nursing

Main Article: Sister Callista Roy’s Adaptation Model of Nursing

Roy’s Adaptation Model of Nursing was developed by Sister Callista Roy in 1976. The prominent nursing theory aims to explain or define the provision of nursing. In her theory, Roy’s model sees the individual as a set of interrelated systems who strives to maintain balance between these various stimuli.


The Roy Adaptation Model (3rd Edition)
The Roy Adaptation Model (3rd Edition)

Roy has numerous publications, including books and journal articles, on nursing theory and other professional topics. Her works have been translated into many language all over the world.

Roy and her colleagues at Roy Adaptation Association, has critiqued and synthesized the first 350 research projects published in English based on her adaptation model.

Her most famous work is on the Roy adaptation model of nursing.


  1. Roy, S. C. (2014). Generating middle range theory: From evidence to practice. New York, NY: Springer.
  2. Roy, S. C., & Harrington, A. (2013). Roy adaptation model-based research: Global view. Generating Middle range theory: From evidence to practice (pp. 355-365). New York, NY: Springer.
  3. Roy, S. C. (2013). From US nurse theorist’s view of person and good of society: Dr. Callista Roy (p. 3), in Cristina Monforte, RN, MSN, PhD (Ed.), Catalunya: Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC).
  4. Roy, S. C., Barone, S. H. (2013). Pedagogic materials for generating middle range theories: Evidence for practice. In S.C Roy (ed.). Generating Middle Range Theory: From Evidence to Practice. New York, NY: Springer.
  5. Roy, S. C. (2011). Research based on the Roy adaptation model: Last 25 years. Nursing Science Quarterly, 24(4), 312-320.
  6. Roy, S. C. (2011). Extending the Roy Adaptation Model to Meet Changing Global Needs. Nursing Science Quarterly, 24(4), 345-351.
  7. Senesac, P. M., Roy, S. C. (2010). Sister Callista Roy’s Adaptation Model, In M. Parker and M. Smith (Ed.), Nursing Theories and Nursing Practice (ed., pp. 40 page manuscript). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.
  8. Jones, D. A., Roy, S. C., K. A. (2013). Marjory Gordon Living Legend. NANDA- International Journal of Nursing Terminologies and Classification, 21(2), 2.
  9. McCurry, M.S., Hunter Revell, S., & Roy, C. (2010). Knowledge for the good of the individual and society: Linking philosophy, disciplinary goals, theory, and practice. Nursing Philosophy, 11(1), 42-52.
  10. Roy, C. (2009). The Roy Adaptation Model, 3rd edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Health.
  11. Barone, S., Roy, C., & Frederickson, K. (2008). Instruments used in Roy Adaptation Model based research: Review, critique and further directions. Nursing Science Quarterly. 21(4), 353-362.
  12. Roy, C. (2007). Update from the future: Thinking of Theorist Callista Roy. Nursing Science Quarterly, 20(2), 113-116.
  13. Roy, Sr. C. & Jones, D. (Editors). (2007). Nursing knowledge development and clinical practice. New York, NY: Springer.
  14. Jones, D.A., Roy, C.A., & Avant, K. (2010). Marjory Gordon, living legend. NADA- International Journal of Nursing Terminologies and Classifications, 21(2), 80-81.
  15. Roy, C. (2010). Assessment and the Roy Adaptation Model. (M. Ito, Trans.). Journal of Japan Society of Nursing Diagnosis, 15(1), 35-41.
  16. Roy, S.C., & Dowlatshahi, M. (2010). Forward. In Nursing Concepts and Nursing Theories Glossary (pp. 2-3). Tehran, Iran: Medical Sciences Publishing Center.
  17. Roy, S. C., Zhan, L. (2010). Sister Callista Roy’s Nursing Adaptation Model and its Applications. In M. Parker & M. Smith (Eds.), Nursing Theories and Nursing Practice, 3rd edition, (pp. 167-181). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.
  18. Roy, C. (2010). Nursing practice and research based on the Roy Adaptation Model. Bulletin of St. Mary’s College, 5-13.
  19. Roy, C. (2010). Thoughts from a theorist. Roy Adaptation Review, 13(1), 5.
  20. Roy, C.(2009). Forward. In J. Cutliffe, K. Hyrkas, & H.P. Mckenna (Eds.), Nursing Models: Application to Practice. London. UK: Quay Books.
  21. Roy, C., & Solodiuk, J. (2009). Global nursing conference focused on knowledge for good of persons and society with reflections from Ph.D. students. International Network for Doctoral Education in Nursing (INDEN) Newsletter, 8(1), 5-6.
  22. Roy, C., Whetsell, M.V., & Frederickson, K. (2009). The Roy Adaptation Model and research: Global perspective. Nursing Science Quarterly, 22(3), 209-211.
  23. Roy, C. (2009). Thoughts from a theorist. Nursing Science Quarterly, 12(1), 4.
  24. Roy, C. (2009). Assessment and the Roy Adaptation Model. The Japanese Nursing Journal, 29(11), 5-7.
  25. Roy, C. (2008). Adversity and theory: The broad picture. Nursing Science Quarterly. 21(2), 138-139.
  26. O’Connor, A. & Roy, C. (2008). Electric power plant emissions and public health. American Journal of Nursing. 108(2), 62-70.
  27. Magee, T. & Roy, C. (2008). Predicting school age behavior problems: The role of early childhood risk factors. Pediatric Nursing, 34(1), 37-43.
  28. Willis, D., Grace, P., & Roy, C. (2008). A central unifying focus for the discipline: Facilitating humanization, meaning, choice, quality of life and dying. Advances in Nursing Science. (31)1. online only:
  29. Chayput, P. & Roy, C. (2007). Psychometric testing of the Thai version of coping and adaption processing scale—short form (TCAPS-SF). Thai Journal of Nursing Council, 22(3), 29-39.
  30. Roy, C. (2007). Update from the future: Thinking of Theorist Callista Roy. Nursing Science Quarterly, 20(2), 113-116.
  31. Roy, C. (2007). The Roy Adaptation Model: Historical and Philosoph-ical Foundations. In Maria Elisa Moreno, et al. (Eds.) Applicacion Del Model Adaptacion en el Ciclo Vital Humano, 2nd Edition. Chia, Columbia: Universidad de La Sabana.
  32. Roy, C. (2007). Fundamental History and Philosophy of the Roy Adaptation Model. In Guitierrez, M. dC (Ed.) Adaptacion y Cuidado en el ser Humano: Una Vision de Enfermeria. Bogota: Editorial El Manual Moderno, Universidad de la Sabana, 1-12.
  33. Roy, C. & Lindendoll, N. (2006). Defining international consensus on mentorship in doctoral education. Journal of Research in Nursing, 11(4), 345-353.
  34. Morgillo-Freeman, S. & Roy, C. (2005). Cognitive behavior therapy and the Roy Adaptation Model: A discussion of theoretical integration. In S.M. Freeman & A. Freeman (Eds.), Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Nursing Practice. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 3-27.
  35. Roy, C. & Gray, M. (2005). Role of the supervisor/mentor. In Ketefian, S. & McKenna, H.P. (Eds.). Doctoral Education in Nursing International Perspectives. New York: Routledge.
  36. Roy, C. (2003). Reflections on Nursing Research and the Roy Adaptation Model. Igaju-syoin Japanese Journal, 36(1), 7-11.
  37. Whittemore, R. & Roy, C. (2002). Adapting to Diabetes Mellitus: A Theory Synthesis. Nursing Science Quarterly, 15(4), 311-317.

Awards and Honors

Roy has received numerous honors due to her work and contribution to the nursing profession.

In 2007, Roy has been named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing and the Massachusetts Registered Nurses Association.

Roy is also a member of Sigma Theta Tau, and she received the National Founder’s Award for Excellence in fostering Professional Nursing Standards in 1981.

Among her achievements include an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Alverno College in 1984, honorary doctorates from Eastern Michigan University (1985) and St. Joseph’s College in main (1999).

She also received the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award for Essentials of the Roy Adaptation Model.

Here are more of her awards & honors:

  • 2013 – Distinguished Graduate Award, Bishop Conaty/Our Lady of Loretto High School
  • 2013 – Honorary Doctoral Degree, Holy Family University
  • 2013 – Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, UCLA
  • 2013 – Excellence in Nursing, The University of Antioquia, Medellin Colombia
  • 2011 – Nursing Science Quarterly Special Issue Honoring the work of Callista Roy, Vol. 24, Num. 4, Oct. 2011
  • 2011 – Faculty Senior Scientist Poster Exemplar Award, Yvonne L. Munn Center for Nursing Research and the Nursing Research Expo Committee, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • 2011 – The Sigma Mentor Award, Sigma Theta Tau International Alpha Chi Chapter
  • 2010 – University of Southern Alabama Picture Gallery of Theorist, University of Alabama
  • 2010 – Inducted to Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, Inaugural Class, Sigma Theta Tau International, Honor Society of Nursing
  • 2010 – “Sixty Who have Made a Difference”, UCLA School of Nursing, 6th Anniversary
  • 2010 – Inductee, Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame
  • 2007 – American Academy of Nursing Living Legend Award

See Also


  1. Boston College. (n.d.). Sr. Callista Roy, PhD, RN, FAAN. Retrieved August 3, 2014, from

External Link

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