Compare Virginia Henderson nursing need theory and Dorothea Orem self-care deficit theory

Virginia Henderson’s nursing need theory and Dorothea Orem’s self-care deficit theory



Choose two nursing theories discussed this week in your readings. Compare them in terms of concepts, assumptions, implications, and application.



Virginia Henderson’s nursing need theory and Dorothea Orem’s self-care deficit theory are the two main theories explored. The self-care deficit theory focuses on the ability of an individual to perform different self-care activities, which include all the activities that an individual can be able begin and perform personally to maintain their health, life, and well-being (McEwen & Wills, 2019). On the other hand, Henderson’s nursing need theory highlights the importance of increasing the independence of a patient and focuses on helping a patient to meet their own basic human needs so as to allow progress after hospitalization (McEwen & Wills, 2019).

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The central concepts of Henderson’s nursing need theory include viewing the individual as the person with the basic health needs and who requires assistance to achieve independence. Henderson also viewed the environment as being supportive of the health needs of an individual and hailed it as a form of balance in different areas of human life. Finally, Henderson views nursing as a unique function of a healthcare practitioner to assist sick individuals in a performance of activities that contribute to their health and independence (Nicely & DeLario, 2019). In contrast, Orem’s self-care deficit defines nursing as the art in which healthcare practitioners provide specialized assistance to individuals with disabilities to meet such individuals’ healthcare. Orem views humans as an individual or social unit that receives care from nurses. Orem views the environment as the chemical, physical, biological, and cultural family and community in which an individual finds themselves. Finally, Orem views health as being functionally or structurally sound, while self-care is the performance of activities to maintain health, well-being, and life (Khademian et al., 2020).



The central assumption of Henderson’s nursing need theory is that nurses should care for patients until such patients can effectively care for themselves (Nicely & DeLario, 2019). On the other hand, the central assumptions of Orem’s theory are that human beings engage in constant connection and communication among themselves to remain functional and stay alive (Khademian et al., 2020).


The implications of Henderson’s nursing need theory is that nurses need to support the independence of patients (Nicely & DeLario, 2019). On the other hand, Orem implies that nurses should seek to fulfill the self-care deficit of individuals with disabilities through their service (Khademian et al., 2020).


The need theory can be applied in nursing practice settings to allow nurses to set specific goals for patients. On the other hand, Orem’s self-care deficit theory can be applied in Healthcare settings to determine the self-care deficits of patients.



Khademian, Z., Kazemi Ara, F., & Gholamzadeh, S. (2020). The Effect of Self Care Education

Based on Orem’s Nursing Theory on Quality of Life and Self-Efficacy in Patients with Hypertension: A Quasi-Experimental Study. International journal of community based nursing and midwifery8(2), 140–149.

McEwen, M & Wills, E.M (2019). Theoretical Basis for Nursing. Wolters Kluwer. Edition: 5th .ISBN: 9781496351210. Chapters 5-9.

Nicely, B., & DeLario, G. T. (2019). Virginia Henderson’s Principles and Practice of Nursing Applied to Organ Donation after Brain Death. Progress in Transplantation, 21(1), 72–77.