Nursing Theory; The Needs Theory

The Needs Theory
The Needs Theory

Needs Theory


There has been a great evolution of the nursing profession by which has become an independent modality in its practice of nursing theory. The evolution has also enhanced distinct nursing interventions and also better nursing models.  The various nursing theorists have come up and developed the theories in the field which contribute positively to the nursing practice (Bluhm, 2014). A general focus regarding the design of the curriculum is provided by the nursing theories which generate new ideas and essential knowledge.

Virginia Henderson is of the nursing theorists that saw the importance for the needs theory. The needs theory was based on her education and practice. The needs theory focused on the promotion of the continued healing for patients even after leaving the hospitals through the emphasis on the increased independence of the patient (Bluhm, 2014). All the paradigms which include nursing, client, health and environment are focused on in the needs theory.

The basic human needs of the patients while receiving care is focused on while guidance and insight are provided as assistance for nurses on how to meet these needs. The selection of the needs theory is due to its deep insight on assessment, evaluation, and interventions in the nursing care. The needs theory has effectively provided guidance and direction essential in structuring professional research, education as well as nursing practice.

In this paper, the deeper insight of the theory would be explored by reviewing its theoretical structure, reflection which includes strengths and weakness while also looking at its application in the nursing field (Joly, 2016).

Description and Theoretical Structure

The nursing needs theory developed by Virginia outlines the functions and responsibilities of nurses in practice in contributing to improvements in the field.  The purpose of the theory is the identification of the basic needs of the patients as wells as suggesting to the nurses the major functions they can perform so as to assist the clients efficiently(Joly,2016). The theory focuses on the nurse activities that would contribute to better recovery, promotion of health or the peaceful death of individuals.

Virginia gave the definition of the needs nursing theory as part of her efforts and objectives involving regulation of the practices in nursing through licensure. The definition of the theory has a greater impact where it outlines basic nursing care components that guide their practices (Joly, 2016).The theoretical structure of the needs theory focuses on the major concepts considered during its development. Individual is the first component where the theory identifies the need for basic needs as vital components in achieving independence and better health.

In this case, individuals are defined as requiring the psychosocial needs and the best nursing care. The environment is a major concept in the needs theory where it is identified as a fundamental element which should be maintained well to be conducive for health operations. In this conducive environment, nurses would focus their activities on efficiently assisting those who cannot function independently.

Health is another major concept in developing the structure of the theory where it is identified as a major problem since poor health affects people of all cultural backgrounds or age (Ahthisham & Jacoline, 2015). In this case, nurses are identified in the theory as key contributors in the prevention of illnesses thus promoting health. Nursing is another major concept essential in developing the theoretical structure. The needs theory has described the nursing roles with the major one been full support of patients so as to meet their health needs and provide an environment that enhances their independence to perform activities.

Despite the major concepts which provide a deep insight into the theoretical structure of the needs theory, there are various components that form it. Through the components which also form its structure, a holistic approach to nursing is clearly explained. The needs theory is composed of the social,physiological,spiritual and psychological needs. All the 14 components of the needs theory are found in the above categories. When represented in a hierarchy or relationship stress, the needs are categorized into physiological, love and belongingness, safety and esteem (Ahtisham & Jacoline, 2015). 

There are major assumptions of the nursing needs theory as per Virginia Henderson. The desire by patients to have good health status is the first major assumption. The theory also assumes that nurses should provide quality care to patients until they become independent.  Another assumption is that a person’s body and mind are interrelated and inseparable thus all their needs should be focused on properly. The needs theory has a major assumption that the nurses are willing and ready to serve patients by fully devoting their services and effort during day and night times (Ahstisham & Jacoline, 2015).

Reflection on the Needs Nursing theory

 The nursing needs theory is based on education of the theorist as well as the nursing practices. The needs nursing theory has clearly identified its main purpose and components that are easily comprehensive to those who take interest to adopt it for implementation (Cypress, 2015). The definition of the needs theory and the provision of its components is logic in nature making its simple in nature.

The components are relatively simple which involve the basic activities by people. The nursing theory has components and theoretically structured in a way that it applies to people of all age brackets and cultural backgrounds. The needs theory has identified that poor health affects people of all ages and backgrounds thus generality is the main focus in its design and application. The wide acceptance of the needs theory and its incorporation into the nursing practice by many which prove its availability and accessibility by many.

The application of the nursing needs theory is essential for those in practice as it enhances adoption of most appropriate skills and functions that seek to improve the health status of many individuals. The needs theory is important in providing guidance to nurses on the performances and inform them on the best activities that would fulfill the patients’ needs effectively (Cypress, 2015). The wide acceptance of the concepts of the needs theory by many people all over the nursing practice is one of its major strengths.

The application of the needs theory made possible by its simple and logic components is also a major strength. Its strengths make it easy to be adopted by nurses in practice without major complications or challenges. The absence of a clear conceptual diagram interconnecting sub concepts and concepts of the theory is one of its weakness. Another weakness is the poor explanation of the roles and performance of the nurses to enhance a peaceful death of the patients (McCrae, 2012).

Application of the theory

Application of the needs theory is vital in the nursing field due to its massive benefits. The needs nursing theory would impact the project that I seek on regarding the nursing practice. The readmissions and long stays in the hospitals is one major problem experienced in the nursing field. Such issues are contributed to by the disparities in poor healthcare collaboration between the care providers and the patient thus most of the operations are not patient centered (McCrae, 2012).

The needs theory is applicable in such a problem where the nurses can use it to set goals of achieving the better interactions and patient-centered care based on the basic components of the theory. The theory applies to the topic since the nurse can adopt it to meet the set goals to ensure better performance towards care in the nursing field while also ensuring the patients receive the bests care to their satisfaction.

The needs theory is of interest in the nursing actions that aim at handling the problem of disparities in the healthcare sector. The fundamental concepts of the needs theory serve as the basis for research in the nursing practices which inform the best and evidenced based nursing actions that would help handle the problems in the healthcare sector effectively (Bluhm, 2014). In this case, application of research and nursing actions as informed by the needs theory results in positive impacts. 


The needs theory has effectively provided guidance and direction essential in structuring professional research, education as well as nursing practice. The theory focuses on the nurse activities that would contribute to better recovery, promotion of health or the peaceful death of individuals.

The needs theory is applicable in various projects that address problems in the nursing sector where the nurses can use it to set goals of achieving the better interactions and patient-centered care based on the basic components of the theory (Joly, 2016). Informing on the best practices through research initiatives based on the components of the needs theory is beneficial in impacting the practices for solving problems positively.


Ahtisham, Y., &Jacoline, S. (2015). Integrating Nursing Theory and Process into Practice; Virginia’s Henderson Need Theory. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 8(2).

Bluhm, R. L. (2014). The (dis)unity of nursing science. Nursing Philosophy, 15(4), 250-260. doi:10.1111/nup.12062

Cypress, B. S. (2015). Theories guiding nursing research and practice: making nursing knowledge development explicit. Nursing Philosophy, 16(3), 167-169. doi:10.1111/nup.12084

Joly, E. (2016). Integrating transition theory and bioecological theory: a theoretical perspective for nurses supporting the transition to adulthood for young people with medical complexity. Journal Of Advanced Nursing, 72(6), 1251-1262. doi:10.1111/jan.12939

McCrae, N. (2012). Whither Nursing Models? The value of nursing theory in the context of evidence-based practice and multidisciplinary health care. Journal Of Advanced Nursing, 68(1), 222-229. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05821.x

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