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The Nursing Theory by Dorothea Orem


The nursing theory that I am going to study is one proposed by Dorothea Orem (Alligood, 2014, p.247). In general, the discussed theory refers to the importance of patients’ ability to take care of themselves. As the author claims, self-care is extremely important for patients for many reasons. To begin with, this ability is one of the basic things that allow us to have a proper quality of life. Furthermore, the possibility of self-care and the outcomes for a patient are strongly interconnected with each other. Therefore, the theory operates under the assumption that successful treatment is impossible if patients are deprived of an opportunity to take care of themselves. In general, the theory is based on two opposing concepts that are self-care and self-care deficit. According to the author, there are requisites for self-care or needs that should be met during treatment; otherwise, it will be more difficult to help the person. These concepts form the system that is premised on the importance of self-care.

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The discussed theory was being developed during a long period, and this is why it is very detailed. Earlier, the notion of self-care was not paid enough attention to providing patients with care. It was especially important in connection to patients’ adjustment, the period when people have to recover their skills and try to do everything without the help of nurses. Therefore, there was a need for such a theory in the nursing community. Developing her theory, Orem was using general knowledge and basic concepts (such as dependence and independence) that exist in the field of nursing to arrange them properly and add to theorists’ understanding of these concepts and the links between them. Speaking about her motivation to develop the theory, it is necessary to say that she was deeply convinced that the promotion of self-care and responsibility among common people would help to ameliorate health situations in the world. As for the approach, the author was trying to describe the whole system of interrelated concepts presenting a general model of nursing.


A possibility of successful implication into nursing practice presents the most important factor allowing to evaluate the theory. As for the theory of self-care deficit, it seems to have been accepted by the nursing community. The work by Orem was cited by hundreds of other specialists in the field who wanted to assess its practical significance and conduct research helping to add something important to the theory. Orem’s theory is still used by many nurse practitioners, and their opinions on it tend to be positive. As for its importance for the entire field, it helps healthcare specialists to teach patients how to become more independent during treatment. It is also helpful when it comes to predicting outcomes for patients; being provided with all the necessary resources to take care of their health, they are more likely to recover faster. The theory could be used during the work with older people who could not receive proper care (Jukema, van Veelen, & Vonk, 2015).


I suppose that the theory developed by Orem is testable; the importance of self-care can be proved with the help of experiments with two controlled groups. It is also necessary to say that the theory presents certain interests for many researchers in the field of nursing; plenty of works testing the theory has already been written by the members of academic society. The studies that use the discussed theory are primarily qualitative. For instance, O’Shaughnessy (2014) uses the theory to take care of an elderly patient. According to the theory, self-care is an essential component of medical care allowing it to become more effective. As it is clear from the conclusions made by different researchers, the statement does not seem to be wrong.

Overall Evaluation

Having taken into consideration all the facts connected to the theory, it is possible to conclude that it is quite comprehensive. At first, the theory developed by Orem is a work that has been improved many times; due to that, it is likely to present a very thoughtful analysis of the problem of self-care in nursing. Furthermore, the author has managed to describe the nursing care model very thoroughly. At the same time, this description allows us to understand the most important principles of nursing. As for the strong points of the theory, it can be stated that it allows us to generalize previous knowledge about nursing. To continue, there is no doubt that her model does not contain logical errors; instead, it presents a good example of logical construction. As for the weaknesses of the discussed theory, it is possible to conclude that the theory itself and the terminology used throughout the work are more likely to be understood only by the readers who have experience of work with patients. Apart from that, the theory consists of a few parts and each of them is developed enough to be regarded as a separate theory. Due to that, some of the parts may be difficult to understand. As for me, I would use it in my advanced practice as it allows me to teach patients to be more responsible when it comes to their health.


Alligood, M. R. (2014). Nursing theorists and their work. Greenville, SC: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Jukema, J. S., van Veelen, N., & Vonk, R. (2015). Students experienced help from preservative care. A reflective case study of two nursing students caring from a nursing framework on good care for older people. International Practice Development Journal, 5(2), 6.

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O’Shaughnessy, M. (2014). Application of Dorothea Orem’s theory of self-care to the elderly patient on peritoneal dialysis. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 41(5), 495.

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