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There are different nursing theories and health theories to help us explain the phenomena

we are experiencing in health. Since nursing knowledge is the inclusive total of the
philosophies, theories, research, and practice wisdom of the discipline, these theories
define what nursing is or what sets it apart from different professions.
Below is a shortlist of different health and nursing theories.
Contents [show]

Abraham Maslow

Hierarchy of Needs

Physiologic Needs: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis,


Safety Needs: security of: body, employment, resources, morality,

family, health, property.

Love and Belonging Needs: friendship, sexual intimacy, family

Esteem Needs: self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others,

respect by others

Self-actualization Needs: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem

solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts.

Adolf Meyer

Believes in totality of man or the holistic approach to man.

Patients could best be understood through consideration of their life


Alfred Adler

Superiority and inferiority complex and birth order.

He emphasized that ones birth order as having an influence on the style

of life and the strengths and weaknesses in ones psychological make up.

Anne Boykin & Savina Schoenhofer

All persons are caring and nursing is a response to unique social call.

Betty Neuman

She developed the Health Care Systems Model.

Nursing is concerned with all the variables affecting an individuals

response to stress, which are interpersonal, intrapersonal and extrapersonal
in nature.

Carl Jung

Introversion and extroversionpersona

Dorothea Orem

Developed self-care, self-care deficit and nursing systems theory.

Nurses have to supply care when the patients cannot provide care to

By measuring the clients deficit relative to self care needs.

Dorothy Johnson

Conceptualized the Behavioral Systems Model.

Each person is composed of 7 subsystems namely: ingestive, eliminative,

affiliative, aggressive, dependence, achievement and sexual.

She also stated that nursing was concerned with man as an integrated
whole and this is the specific knowledge of order we require.

Erik Erikson

Psychosocial development of man.

Trust vs Mistrust, Autonomy vs Shame & Doubt, Initiative vs Guilt, Industry

vs Inferiority, Identity vs Role Confusion, Intimacy vs Isolation, Generativity
vs Stagnation, Ego Integrity vs Despair.

Ernestine Wiedenbach

Nurses individual philosophy lends credence to nursing care.

Wiedenbach believed that there were 4 main elements to clinical nursing.

They included: a philosophy, a purpose, a practice and the art.

Faye Abdellah

Defined nursing as a service to individuals and families, therefore to


Identified 21 nursing problems.

To promote good hygiene and physical comfort

To promote optimal activity, exercise, rest, and sleep

To promote safety through prevention of accidents, injury, or other

trauma and through the prevention of the spread of infection

To maintain good body mechanics and prevent and correct


To facilitate the maintenance of a supply of oxygen to all body cells

To facilitate the maintenance of nutrition of all body cells

To facilitate the maintenance of elimination

To facilitate the maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance

To recognize the physiologic responses of the body to disease


To facilitate the maintenance of regulatory mechanisms and


To facilitate the maintenance of sensory function

To identify and accept positive and negative expressions, feelings,

and reactions

To identify and accept the interrelatedness of emotions and organic


To facilitate the maintenance of effective verbal and nonverbal


To promote the development of productive interpersonal


To facilitate progress toward achievement of personal spiritual goals

To create and maintain a therapeutic environment

To facilitate awareness of self as an individual with varying physical,

emotional, and developmental needs

To accept the optimum possible goals in light of physical and

emotional limitations

To use community resources as an aid in resolving problems arising

from illness

To understand the role of social problems as influencing factors in

the cause of illness

Florence Nightingale

Environmental Theory.

Focused on manipulating the environment for the patients recovery.

Pure or fresh air

Pure water

Sufficient food supplies

Efficient drainage


Light (especially direct sunlight)


Four temperaments

sanguine personality is fairly extroverted.

melancholic is a person who is a thoughtful ponderer.

phlegmatic tends to be self-content and kind.

choleric is a do-er.

Harry Stack Sullivan

Interpersonal theory and anxiety occurs due to poor interpersonal


Hildegard Peplau

Interpersonal model. Nursing is an interpersonal process of therapeutic

interactions between the sick and the nurse

Ida Jean Orlando

Believed that nurses can help patients meet a perceived need that they
cannot meet themselves.

Nursing Process theory.

Imogene King

Goal attainment theory

Nursing is a helping profession

Jean Piaget

Cognitive development theory

Sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, formal operations

Jean Watson

Human Caring Model.

Nursing is the application of the art and human science through

transpersonal caring.

Lawrence Kohlberg

Three (3) levels of moral development:

Premoral or preconventional

Conventional level

Postconventional level

Madeleine Leininger

Transcultural nursing.

Nursing is a humanistic and scientific mode of helping a client through

specific cultural caring process.

Margaret Newman

Health as expanding consciousness.

Humans are unitary beings in whom disease is a manifestation of the

pattern of health.

Martha Rogers

Science of Unitary Human Beings.

Human beings are more than and different from the sum of their parts.

Myra Levine

Four conservation principles:

conservation of energy,

structural integrity,

personal integrity and

social integrity

Sigmund Freud

Psychosexual theory and Psychoanalytic Theory

Sister Calista Roy

Adaptation model.

Each person is a unified biopsychosocial system in constant interaction

with changing environment.

Virginia Henderson

Identified 14 basic needs.

Nurse functions to assist clients in performing activities contributing to

health, recovery, or peaceful death.