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Betty Neuman’s Systems Theory of Nursing

Name of the theory

The Neuman Systems Model appeared in 1972 and 1974 in Neuman’s books “A model for teaching total person approach to patient problems” and “The conceptual models for nursing practice” (Gigliotti, 2001). These books explained her perceptions of nursing and healthcare and. The books described the openness of the nursing model in accommodating the findings and perspectives from other theories (Gigliotti, 2001).

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Identification of the theorist

Born in Lowel, Ohio, in 1924, Betty Neuman attained a BS in nursing in 1957 (Neuman & Young, 2002). In 1966, she obtained her MS degree in Public health at UCLA, where she specialized in mental health. She later completed a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the same institution. She worked as a consultant, professor, and researcher in mental health nursing (Riehl & Roy, 2004).

The concept

The Nueman systems model, a contemporary nursing theory, is a comprehensive guide for various fields of nursing such as practice, education, research as well as administration because it encourages creativity and creative implementation (Neuman & Young, 2002). In addition, it encourages the unification of a wide range of health-related theories and clarification of the relationships between various aspects of nursing care (Gigliotti, 2001). Moreover, the model allows the clarification of role definitions at all levels of the nursing practice (Riehl & Roy, 2004).

Neuman’s theory is concerned with the relationship between the client and the environmental stressors. It attempts to examine the patient’s response to the environmental stressors and the levels of interventions required to ensure that the optimal health of an individual is maintained or restored. According to Neuman, the purpose of the nursing practice and application is to protect the basic structure of the patients and sustain their optimum level of wellness (Riehl & Roy, 2004). According to this concept, the nurses must help in achieving the optimum wellness of the patients by providing care throughout all the levels of prevention modes- primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention levels (Gigliotti, 2001).

In elaborating her theory, Neuman developed some major concepts and sub-concepts that attempt to explain the theoretical perspective of the model (Riehl & Roy, 2004). Like Nightingale, Neuman based her theory on concepts that define humans, the environment, basic structure, open system, and client variables (Neuman & Young, 2002). According to Neuman, human beings are “open systems” in constant interaction with the external and internal forces of the environment. She used the term “stressors” to refer to these forces (Riehl & Roy, 2004). According to this concept, the human aspect keeps moving between the state of health stability and illness.

The concept of environment is a major aspect of the theory (Gigliotti, 2001). The internal environment defines all the factors that reside inside the open system. On the other hand, the external environment defines all the factors that exist outside the open systems (Gigliotti, 2001).

The concept of health is a continuum of the state of the open system from illness to wellness or from wellness to illness (Riehl & Roy, 2004). When all the needs of the open system are satisfied, the open wellness prevails. However, if these needs are not met, illness affects the open system.

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According to this theory, the aim of the nursing practice is to define and apply the appropriate action or set of actions in situations that are related to the stressors. Nursing is also concerned with the relationship between the reactions of the whole system to the environmental stressors (Neuman & Young, 2002). The nursing practice is important in restoring or maintaining the stability of the system by ensuring that all the needs of the open system are satisfied.

The concept of open system states that there is a continuous flow of processes and inputs, outputs, and feedbacks (Riehl & Roy, 2004).


Like other nursing theories, The Neuman Systems Model makes some assumptions. For instance, it assumes that each patient or client is a unique composite of characteristics and factors within a given range of human responses (Neuman & Young, 2002). It also assumes that a number of universal stressors exist, but most of them are unknown (Riehl & Roy, 2004). In addition, each stressor differs from each other in terms of its ability to disturb the normal status of humans and the level of normality.

Why was the theory chosen?

The Neuman Systems Model was chosen because it has a multidimensional as well as a holistic perspective. It has relevance not only in nursing but also in clinical medicine, education settings, and biomedical fields (Neuman & Reed, 2007).


The theory is applicable to all levels of nursing such as individual, family, group, and the general community. It emphasizes on the primary interventions such as health promotion (Gigliotti, 2001). Thus, I will apply this model in my healthcare administration field, where patients are the clients. The model encourages us to consider all ideas from various fields such as nursing, clinical and biomedical research (Gigliotti, 2001). Therefore, I will use this concept to obtain and apply evidence-based information from research and clinical fields. The aim is to improve the outcomes of the administration work. In particular, public health interventions should be included in the nursing work in order to focus on the family, group, and community levels of nursing and improve human health in general.


Gigliotti, E. (2001). Empirical tests of the Neuman System Model: Relational statement analysis. Nursing Science Quarterly, 14(2), 149-157.

Neuman, B., & Reed, K. S. (2007). A Neuman systems model perspective on nursing in 2050. Nursing Science Quarterly, 20(2), 111-113.

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Neuman, B., & Young, R.J. (2002). A model for teaching total person approach to patient problems. Nursing Research, 21(4), 264-269.

Riehl, J.P., & Roy, C. (2004). Conceptual models for nursing practice. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts

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