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Nowadays, much research has been conducted in the health care sphere. The main idea of the studies is to develop new theories aimed at improving the quality of the services and the patients’ condition. The development of a new vision on treatment and improvement of the nursing services quality is one of the main goals of the modern nursing theories. A variety of theories and approaches to nursing care provides valuable assistance to both health care practitioners and patients. The self-care deficit nursing theory is a middle range theory that was developed by Dorothea Orem. In the self-care deficit nursing theory, Dorothea Orem emphasized the importance of self care and rehabilitation and encouraged people to be as independent as possible.


The importance of the nursing theories may be explained in several ways. First, the nursing theories help structure the working process of the nurses. Second, they help increase the quality of services. Finally, the theories help enlarge the nursing knowledge. Depending on the disease and conditions, nurses apply different theories. Previously, nurses employed different approaches in the treatment trying to get the best result. Now, the existence of the nursing theories offers already checked and tested practices to be used in particular situations. With numerous nursing theories, the professionals know what actions should be taken and how they may assist patients (Basford & Slevin, 2003). Nurses refer to the already tested theories and act in accordance with the rules; consequently, the quality of the services increases significantly. The application of the behavioral theory in some cases is more beneficial than the use of cognitive one, for example. The paper studies several examples and explains why a particular theory should be used in a specific case.

The nursing theories are aimed at increasing the nursing knowledge. By either developing new theories or revising the already existing ones, nurses improve their knowledge assuring that they can act appropriately in any situation. Theoretical knowledge is the first step on the way to implementing the best practices. Professional nurses do not act blindfold; they employ knowledge in the already tested theories. Nursing education became the focus of the theories developed in the 1950-1980s.This time witnessed the development of numerous theories that were further criticized to assure the credibility and validity of the studies. Therefore, by learning the theories, nurses increase their knowledge for the future practical implementation. As a result, theories are the first step for nurses on their way to practice (McKenna, 1997). Being aware of the necessary actions, nurses can act appropriately when it comes time to practice. Therefore, the importance of the nursing theories cannot be underestimated.

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A variety of the nursing theories gives food for discussion. However, the self-care deficit nursing theory, middle range nursing theory, deserves particular attention as it is crucial for the rehabilitation practices. According to Taylor, Renpenning, and Renpenning (2011), the self-care deficit nursing theory “explains why people require nursing care, the process for production of the required care, and a structure for the development of the sciences of self-care, the practical sciences of nursing, and the related knowledge associated with these sciences” (p. 3). Overall, this definition explains the importance of the self-care deficit nursing theory in particular explaining the importance of the nursing theories in general. In explaining the practical implementation of the self-care deficit nursing theory, Seed and Torkelson (2012) assure, “The basis for the theory is to describe how and when nursing care is needed to assist patients who are unable to meet their own self-care needs” (p. 395). The key concepts of the self-care deficit nursing theory are the following. The nursing theory focuses both on physical and mental deviations in patients. While other nursing theories focus on the actions to be implemented by the nurses, the self-care deficit nursing theory emphasizes the importance of cooperation between the nursing actions and personal care. According to this theory, the nurses have two main roles: the medical and the nursing one. The medical focus of the self-care deficit nursing theory aims at assessing patient’s condition and prescribing the necessary treatment. The nursing focus of the theory aims at the appropriate relocation of the nursing and patient’s functions in self-care. Nurses should teach patients to conduct self-care in an appropriate way to assure the effective treatment and fast recovery. The scholars define six components of the self-care deficit nursing theory, namely self-care, self-care requisites, self-care and dependent-care agency, therapeutic self-care demand, self-care deficit, and nursing agency (Seed & Torkelson, 2012, p. 395). Being aimed at developing the strategies for self-care, nurses monitor the everyday life of the patients to assure that they do all possible for fast recovery.

According to the specifics of the theory, the self-care deficit nursing theory is used in treating psychiatric illnesses and rehabilitation from the diseases that do not require hospitalization but need special attention from the nurses. Pediatric asthma is one of such examples. Asthma is “a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways characterized by hyperactivity of the trachea and bronchi to various stimuli, resulting in airflow obstruction that is reversible either spontaneously or as a result of treatment” (Cox & Taylor, 2005, p. 251). When applying the self-care deficit nursing theory, nurses and caregivers of children with asthma have to go through three stages in self-care. The first stage is the estimation of the self-care strategies based on a detailed assessment. On this stage, caregivers should study the symptoms, their presence, severity, and progression over time. The next stage is the assessment of self-care operations that involves judgment and decision-making. Depending on the severity and the progression of the symptoms, children and caregivers may cope with the symptoms themselves; they may either call the nurse, search for professional assistance, or observe the progress of the symptoms. The final stage of the self-care in this case depends on the successes of previous steps. If children or caregivers decide to cope with the symptoms themselves, they are to take the necessary actions. Searching for the professional assistance will require from children or caregivers either to accept or turn down the professional help depending on the situation. The call to the nurse will also require either the agreement or disagreement with the offered steps and implementation of some actions. In case no actions are planned, the caregivers will observe the symptoms and repeat the actions from the first stage (Cox & Taylor, 2005). This example explains the self-care deficit nursing theory and the actions, which should be implemented in assisting the patients.

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The self-care deficit nursing theory considers the supervision the basis of the treatment as, even though the self-care is offered, the patients receive nursing care that control the treatment and assist any time one needs help. This theory asserts that, while the nurses are supervisors in providing treatment and monitoring the process of rehabilitation, the whole work is done by the patients themselves. In the self-care deficit nursing theory, the nursing knowledge develops on a regular basis. When studying in the nursing schools, students receive the necessary information in the self-care deficit nursing theory: however, the main knowledge is obtained from the practice. In case of a patient who cannot stay in the hospital, for example, a patient with epilepsy, nurses implement this theory to assure that a patient follows personal treatment at home and can take the necessary actions in case of attack and can always turn to professional help.


In conclusion, the self-care deficit nursing theory is one of crucial theories implemented in practice. The theoretical knowledge of the theory help nurses structure their work and assist patients in their rehabilitation with self-care. Most of the diseases require long-term treatment at home. In this case, the use of the self-care deficit nursing theory becomes inevitable. Nurses should refer to this theory to assure that patients staying at home can cope with the symptoms of their disease and are aware of the actions they should take in order to help themselves when no nursing care is available at the moment.

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