The Evolution of Theory: A Case Study

  • Elizabeth D. Carlson The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • Joan Engebretson University of Texas
  • Robert M. Chamberlain University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center


International attention is currently focused on alleviating health disparities through the adoption of new paradigms of research and the development of culturally relevant theories of health and illness. Yet, in spite of consistent calls to inform these deficiencies, the methodological trajectory from problem identification to theoretical development has remained relatively elusive. In this article, the authors present a case study of a systematic research methodology that resulted in a refined theory of social capital with practical relevance for health disparities research. Their purpose is to demonstrate how the stages and strategies of the hybrid model of concept development were extended as a research trajectory.