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The Theory Of Need By Henderson And Its Relevance

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Discuss about the Theory of Need by Henderson and its Relevance in Nursing Practice.



Health care provision has rapidly changed globally; this rapid change has therefore created a demand for more inclusive and collaborative working environments (Clarke, 2014). The driving force has been the intent to keep pace with population pressures and meeting the complex care needs and expectations of the patients. In this view, researchers have developed a conceptual framework which then clarifies and gives an analysis of the different phenomena in nursing care. The nursing models can also be defined as a system of expectations, assumptions, theories, and concepts which support and inform research.

Research has provided that the application of nursing models or theories into the practice of health varies from one context to the other. Starkweather (2016) denotes that this is important to note that addressing the needs of the patients is a very crucial element in the provision of quality care. This essay will, therefore, focus on explaining the context of the needs of patients as shown in Henderson “need theory.”  Understanding of the theory will enable all nurses globally to promote the improvement of the standards of caring for the assessment of the patient needs and developing both analytical and thinking ability and skills. The essay will also provide an understanding of the impacts of the theory on nursing practices.

In her context, Hendersonemphasized on the increasing patient's independence in health care as this will result in increased patient independence which in turn improves the progress of the patients after hospitalization (Henderson, Schoonbeek, and Auditore, 2013). The theory lays more emphasis on individual care which will then promote essential activities to recover or achieve a peaceful death. She has also categorized nursing activities into fourteen components.  Under these categories, the first nine are physiological, and there are also psychological, sociological and spiritual to nursing occupation and recreation. Henderson’s theory is seen as a logical approach to the problems or needs of the people. The theory process was suggested to comprise of; assessment process, nursing diagnose, outcome, planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Nursing assessment can be defined as the ability to respond to patients worsening condition and is an essential component of pre-registration nurse education (Lynch, &Viola, 2012). Hom et al. (2017) also shown that according to the American Nurses Association all nursing professionals are required to employ the use of systematic and dynamic means of collecting patients’ information and analyzing their data. Other studies also show that in most cases it is referred to as the first step in delivering health care. The collection of patient’s data does involve not only the collection of physiological data but also the psychological and socio-cultural, spiritual and economic factors as well. Such examination provides a detailed understanding of the needs of the patient for effective administration of effective health care management.

According to Clarke (2014), nurses should adopt the use of the ABCDE approach when conducting their assessment and administering treatment to acutely ill patients in order to ensure that acute deterioration is identified and managed accordingly. The use of ABCDE entails the examination of the patient’s airway, the breathing symptoms, the air circulation, any disability incidences and the amount of exposure. The use of this approach in patients assessment helps in promoting a better understanding by the nurses, the importance of using a comprehensive framework to put more emphasize and enhance the delivery of high and quality patient-centered care

The second Aspect of the need theory entails an emphasis on the nursing diagnoses as a very important process in administering quality patient-centered care. Lynch and Viola (2012) have shown that a nursing diagnosis is based on the assessment report which is then documented and used to examine the outcome of the analysis or the parent’s examination. Traditionally the nurses used handwritten narrative stories which research has found that were not consistent enough in documenting care plans (Rivera, & Parris, 2012). Such lack of consistency was found to result in misunderstanding of the care performed hence making it more difficult for the nurses to ensure continuity and evaluate care across settings. Therefore research has advocated for a standardized nursing language which improves understanding and communication between the health care providers and the patients.


The standardized nursing language also leads to expansion of nursing knowledge and enhances health information systems. It also facilitates cost evaluation of nursing services and thus leads to improved education and eventually results to increased comparability especially when one is measuring phenomena across individuals or across different settings (Malwela, Maputle, & Lebese, 2015). Henderson was also of the view that, the measurement of outcomes relevant in any medical scenario was an important tool in understanding the needs of the patients and in administering appropriate care. It is believed that the measurement of outcomes helps in evaluating the quality of care increase the scope of knowledge and also plays an important role in determining the effectiveness of the necessary interventions which are directed towards improving the symptoms and quantity of life in clinical care.

The planning of nursing care was also given much weight in Henderson’s need theory. It requires that the client information should be organized around a medical diagnosis (Hung, 2015). Once the assessment is done, nursing diagnoses conducted and outcomes encoded then an appropriate nursing care plan should be adopted. The care should be focused on the reasons for nursing and in a holistic view of the client's or patient rather than basing a plan on a disease model (Taylor & Wros, 2017).

The need theory has gained support from other researchers in its attempt to employ the use of care based documentation. Research has provided that there is need to create a structure of patients care based documentation with the aim of bringing out patients view of his care. The care based documentation comprises of all the nursing processes of assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation an idea supported by Henderson’s need theory. Such a cared based structure provides a logical structure for recording the patients’ needs and assessment outcomes in a systematic and purposeful way. It also acts as base for promoting the nursing profession through quality health care centered on patients’ needs and stimulates a friendly environment of understanding between the patients and health care providers (Kärkkäinen, O., & Eriksson, K. (2014).

The need theory also placed more emphasis on the implementation strategies or plans of health care. Starkweather (2010) has shown that the development of a clinical pathway implementation in health care provision enhances the medical quality offered by the nurses for care and also enhances patient’s satisfaction. It is argued that measuring the degree of patients satisfaction with the health care provided can help the hospital management in facilitating hospital service provision as well as increasing and maintaining the quality of services provided.  Patients satisfactions achieved when the patient's expectations of the medical care are met, or the actual treatment is done to the patient is successful and also the fact that the results of the medical treatment received by the patient were positive (Yeh, Pai, & Huang, 2015 and Burchill, 2015).

The knowledge of the need theory is therefore very important as it enhances the scope of knowledge in the nursing career. Many scholars have researched on many other issues relating nursing practices to healthcare care but had not narrowed down to how meeting the specific needs of the patients may help in promoting the quality of health care provided (Kumar & Antonenko, 2014). In the context of clinical learning, Wros (2013) denotes that it may be factored out as the acquisition of technical skills via the application of theoretical concepts to practice. Therefore, integration of theoretical knowledge is very important as it forms the basis of every school of thought (Parris, 2014). The theory provides knowledge and skills in nursing profession which becomes more evident during the clinical placements. Research has provided that the major factor that has been hindering the integration of theory to clinical practice is the existence of limited opportunities to acquire clinical experience (Malwela, Maputle, & Lebese, 2015). The theory also plays an important role in the development framework for the nursing profession. Lastly, it adds more knowledge to the existing literature which eventually leads to increased efficiency in healthcare provision.


Nursing theory and its application to clinical practice vary from one context to the other. It is its applicability and ability to solve certain problems or closing certain knowledge gaps that make it unique and even more relevant if its findings are found to be relevant in addressing nursing needs. It’s upon such basis I found Henderson’s theory of need relevant to my nursing practice as it not only focuses on the provision of health care but also ensuring that the ultimate needs of the patient are addressed. By stressing and placing more emphasis on patients independence, the theory promotes sustainable health practices with will be based on a better understanding between the patients and the health care providers.



Clarke, C. (2014). Promoting the 6Cs of nursing in patient assessment.Nursing Standard, 28(44), 52-59.

Lynch, M. P., & Viola, S. R., (2012).Measuring Patient-Oriented Outcomes in Palliative Care: Functionality and Quality of Life.Clinical Journal Of Oncology Nursing, 12(1), 65-77. doi:10.1188/08.CJON.65-77.

Burchill, C 2015, 'Exploration o f Nurse Practices and Attitudes Related to Postoperative Vital Signs', MEDSURG Nursing, 24, 4, pp. 249-255, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 2 May 2017.

Hom, P, Lee, T, Shaw, J, & Hausknecht, J 2017, 'One hundred years of employee turnover theory and research', Journal Of Applied Psychology, 102, 3, pp. 530-545, PsycARTICLES, EBSCOhost, viewed 2 May 2017.

Henderson, A., Schoonbeek, S., &Auditore, A. (2013). Processes To Engage And Motivate Staff. Nursing Management - UK, 20(8), 18-25.

Hung, K. (2015).Effects of clinical pathway implementation on medical quality and patient satisfaction.Journa of Quality Management, 29(5/8), 83-91. doi:10.1080/14783363.2013.863529.

Kumar, S. s., &Antonenko, P. (2014). Connecting practice, theory and method: Supporting professional doctoral students in developing conceptual frameworks. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 58(4), 54-61.

Malwela, T., Maputle, M. S., & Lebese, R. T. (2015). Implications for integration of theory with clinical practice: Views of student midwives on clinical practice. African Journal For Physical, Health Education, Recreation & Dance, 691-701.

Parris, K. M. (2014).Use of Nursing Diagnoses and Interventions in Public Health Nursing Practice.Nursing Diagnosis, 13(1), 15.

Starkweather, A. (2010). Improving Patient-Centered Medical-Surgical Nursing Practice With Quality-of-Life Assessment. MEDSURG Nursing, 19(4), 224-232.

Wros, P. (2013). Concept Mapping: A Nursing Model for Care Planning. Journal Of Nursing Education, 46(5), 211-216.

Yeh, T., Pai, F., & Huang, K. (2015).Effects of clinical pathway implementation on medical quality and patient satisfaction.Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 26(5/6), 583-601. doi:10.1080/14783363.2013.863529.


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