Comparing Henderson’s Need Theory and Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory


Title: Nursing Theory comparison paperSource to be Used: Theoretical Basic for Nursing by Melanie McEwen, chapters 5-9 Choose two nursing theories discussed this week in your readings. Compare them in terms of concepts, assumptions, implications, and application. Nursing theories example: Dorothea Orem’s self-care deficit nursing theory Newman’s model. Henderson’s theory Concept of nursing

Comparing Henderson’s Need Theory and Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory

Virginia Henderson’s Need Theory was developed to identify the unique ability of patients to engage in activities that foster their healing. The theory focuses on the role of increasing patient autonomy and independence to hasten their healing process and improve their emotional stability while in institutionalized care (McEwen & Wills, 2017). It, therefore, emphasizes basic human needs and how clinicians can assist patients in meeting such needs. The theory is based on the assumption that all patients desire to return to health and that nurses provide care to patients until they gain the sufficient capacity to care for themselves. On the other hand, Dorothea Orem’s self-care deficit theory focuses on each individual’s ability to perform activities that bring out the best in them despite being ill. The theory identifies the primary role of nurses as the act of assisting others in the provision and management of self-care to restore and maintain health. The theory assumes that all patients constantly communicate with their environment to stay alive and maintain health (McEwen & Wills, 2017). It also assumes that all people identify privations experienced by other human beings and provide input through life-sustaining and function-regulating actions.

Virginia Henderson’s Need Theory helps improve the quality of nursing care by allowing nurses to articulate what they do for patients and why they do it. The theory helps caregivers identify patients’ contribution to the delivery of care services, which enhances their capacity to establish good therapeutic relationships and provide patient-centered care. It is broadly applied in institutionalized care facilities where nurses provide treatment while patients engage in various activities to enhance their physical and emotional health. On the other hand, Dorothea Orem’s self-care deficit theory identifies patients’ ability to initiate actions on their behalf to maintain life, health, and well-being. It is commonly applied in the primary care setting, whereby clinicians assist patients and families in self-care matters to identify and describe health and health-related results.


McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2017). The theoretical basis for nursing. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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