Nursing Theory: Johnson’s Behavioral System Model


Approaches to caring for patients largely depend on which nursing theory is used by junior medical personnel. As the analysis of one such model, Johnson’s Behavioral System Model will be used. The application of this model in practice has a number of features, and it is necessary to consider its peculiarities and draw conclusions regarding the scope of application. It is assumed that this theory emphasizes the attention of specialists not on the needs of people but their behavior and adaptation to current conditions.

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Major Components and Concepts of the Theory

In the model under consideration, there are several basic concepts. Thus, the patient, according to Johnson’s theory, is an individual with a set of interrelated systems of behavior, and each of them strives for balance within itself (Holaday, 2015). The author of the model believes that diseases or lifestyle changes can unbalance the subsystem of human behavior (Holaday, 2015). Nursing care should be aimed at restoring balance. The manners chosen by a person is determined by his or her predisposition to a particular type of behavior.

Philosophical Basis

From the philosophical point of view, the sources of the patient’s problems are independent factors that cannot be controlled or changed. Thus, for example, according to Fawcett (2015), the causes of the problems are illness, stress, changes in the lifestyle and behavior of the patient, which are conditioned by attitudes based on his or her past and present experience related to the environment. All these issues can unbalance the subsystem of the human behavior. Nursing care should be aimed at restoring their balance.

Practical Area to Apply the Theory

There are several practical areas of medical activity where the use of this theory can be rational. It is surgery where patients are treated after operational interventions, as well as psychoneurological clinics where people receive specialists’ help in the treatment of mental disorders caused by various factors. Disorders in behavior and inadequate reactions to certain external stimuli usually occur because of moral depression (Wayne, 2014). Therefore, the terms of the model provide for the encouragement to behavior change, support, and partnership.

The Question to Answer with the Help of the Theory

The use of theory in nursing practice may help to answer the following question: can the analysis of behavioral motives positively influence the intervention process? It is this approach to work that is described in Johnson’s model. It is certainly better to evaluate the concepts of this nursing approach in practice. Thus, as Holaday (2015) claims, the basic principles of work are guardianship, encouraging positive habits, limiting negative actions, psychological support, encouraging patients to believe in themselves, and stimulating positive changes in behavior.

The Area of Interest

The introduction of this model will be effective and interesting in different areas. In particular, special attention should be given to care for those patients who have psychological disorders. These are behavioral motives that are changed in such people, and testing the work of theory in this context is likely to be successful. The intervention should be carried out in stages. To begin with, it is essential to assess the degree of change in the psyche and the norms of behavior of a particular patient. Further, it is required to select the necessary components of the model – care, moral support, etc. Finally, open work should be used in the form of motivation and encouragement, which will help to restore the patient’s positive mood. All these stages will be successful if they are implemented step-by-step.


Thus, Johnson’s Behavioral System Model emphasizes nurses’ attention not on the needs of people but their behavior and adaptation to specific conditions. Interventions include the assessment of the patient’s mental changes caused by different circumstances, as well as psychological support. The terms of the theory are particularly useful when working with those people who have mental disorders under the influence of specific life changes.

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Fawcett, J. (2015). Evolution and use of formal nursing knowledge. In R. Nunnery-Kearney (Ed.), Advancing your career concepts in professional nursing (pp. 33-57) (6th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: FA Davis.

Holaday, B. (2015). Dorothy Johnson’s Behavioral System Model and its application. In M. C. Smith & M. E. Parker (Eds.), Nursing theories and nursing practice (pp. 89-104) (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: FA Davis.

Wayne, G. (2014). Dorothy E. Johnson’s Behavioral System Model. Nurselabs. Web.

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