Henderson’s Nursing Theory Critique

Theories are used to distinguish occurrences and manage the practice of various disciplines. Theories are staminal in the nursing profession as they act as instructions for the nursing practice. Without these theories, nurses will not be capable to discharge functions and obligations successfully putting patients’ security and health in jeopardy. To apply nursing theory properly, it is crucial to know how to define, investigate, and critique the theory.

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Henderson is famous for her Nursing Need Theory. Henderson developed her theory at the beginning of 1937. The theory appeared as the result of her education and practice. The theory is very important as it underlines the significance of a patient’s independence. It presupposes that the patient will be able to progress even after being released from the medical institution (Meleis, 2012, p. 434). The theory describes the nurse’s role, which includes substitutive, supplementary, and complementary constituents. Substitute role goes about implies various actions, which are directed to the patient. The supplementary role implies the assistance of the nurse in all patient’s actions. Finally, a complementary role implies actions directed to the patient who attempts to perform any actions. All of these roles allow the patient to become and maintain as independent as possible (Colley, 2003, p. 33).

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Need theory is important because the theory has indicated fourteen essential needs, which are very influential in the nursing practice. According to Colley (2003), the Need theory provides nurses with “ a sense of identity and helps patients, managers and other health care professionals to recognize the unique contribution that nurses make to the healthcare service” (p. 37). The theory is highly important as it can be applied to individuals of all ages. Moreover, practitioners can apply this theory to guide and improve their practice. 

As a matter of act, the Need theory developed by Henderson can be applied in various clinical situations in the case when a patient does not have the cognition or the ability to take actions, which concern health and well-being. Need theory is highly applicable for chronic constructive pulmonary disease (Kara, 2005, p. 129). This disease is known to affect millions of people. Usually, the theory is utilized to provide individualized care to the patients. The theory is very useful, as it allows patients with the above-mentioned disease to identify their needs while helping to fulfill the desired outcomes of maintaining independence and reducing hospitalization due to COPD complications. The theory provides these patients with independence. The theory provides the hope to reduce the hospitalization of patients with COPD (Kara, 2005, p. 132). Usually, the application of the need theory requires five steps. First of all, it is important to memorize and understand all fourteen elements of the need theory secondly, it is crucial to assess the patient according to these components. Thirdly, it is essential to create a nursing plan, which is based on the results and provides clear nurse assistance to the patient, which is applied in the course of the physician’s medication of the condition of disease. Fourthly, it is fundamental to implement the plan. It should be taken into account that all requirements are to be addressed on the daily basis. The final step addresses the reassessment of the nursing plan, as the treatment has to be constantly reevaluated (Meleis, 2012, p. 91). 

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Virginia Henderson’s theory is logical. All of the theory’s concepts are interrelated. Moreover, the definition of the theory together with the list of theory components is logical. Nevertheless, the theory lacks the connection between physiological and other human characteristics. Therefore, all the components can be applied as a guide for the patient or the nurse in achieving the desired objective. Even though the theory is quite simple, it can be generalized. Nevertheless, the connections between the concepts of the theory seem to be unclear. The theory can be grounded on the hypothesis, which can be applied to generate a testable hypothesis. 

Henderson’s Theory Analysis

Henderson’s theory is composed of four major concepts, which incorporate human needs, culture, bio-psychology, and interaction-communication. These concepts are considered to be fundamental elements of the nursing process. They consider four elements including the human as such, his/her environment, health, and nursing. Henderson considered a patient to be the person that requires nursing care. Nevertheless, nursing is not restricted to disease care only. Therefore, Henderson examined psychological, biological, spiritual, and sociological elements. The patient was identified as a person with several needs that are to be met for the person to be healthy. Henderson did not distinguish environment in the theory (Alligood, 2014, p. 45). Despite this fact, a supportive environment and its maintenance are considered to be a very important constituent in her fourteen activities. Therefore, Virginia Henderson considers a person in regards to his/her family. The environment is discussed from the viewpoint of society. Thus, society is a crucial driver for the nursing services, as it expects nurses to act for those individuals who are not capable of performing their functions independently. Nevertheless, the influence of the environment, community, and society on the patient is not discussed in the theory (Alligood, 2014, p. 46). The concept of health was not explicitly differentiated in the theory. Virginia Henderson used the concept of health to define the balance in all spheres of human life. Several factors influence the concept of health. The status of health can be defined with the help of a person’s capability to perform all fourteen elements of need, indicated by Virginian Henderson. Finally, Henderson dedicated a lot of attention to the concept of nursing. She defined that the major role of any nurse is to help any individual, whether the person is sick or well. The nurse is supposed to help people to perform their activities and contribute to an individual’s health and his/her recovery (Alligood, 2014, p. 46). 

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Holistic Need Theory views nursing as a practice, which concentrates on the treatment of the whole person and takes into account the fundamental needs of the individual. The theory denies the fact that the person has to be viewed through the illness only. The theory presupposes that the nursing practice will address the interrelations of the spirit, mind, body, emotions, social environment, and socio-cultural context. Theory views all of these factors and the elements, which are to create the individual. The work on these concepts will allow treating the person, taking into account the influence of the treatment on the health of the patient. Holistic need theory concentrates on health and well-being promotion, treatment assistance, and suffering alleviation or suffering prevention. 

The essence of the theory lays in the fact that it demonstrates that it is more important to treat the person, acknowledging the person's requirements and values rather than dedicating the treatment to the symptoms only. The theory is highly important all the treatment on the one level will influence all other levels. Moreover, theory indicates the importance of the individual importance. It practically means that an individual is considered to be an active part of the medication process and not only the recipient of the medication. Thus, it provides cognition and self-awareness to the patient, which intensifies the general improvement and facilitates all changes. Moreover, the patient can have more control over his/her personal life and needs. 

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Because holistic need theory is a new theory, there may be a lot of barriers to its application. The lack of awareness might be considered as the main hurdle for theory application. The access may be difficult for rural populations, minorities, underinsured groups, and vulnerable groups, which encompass chronically and terminally ill patients. However, holistic need theory may be of particular importance for terminally ill patients, as it allows them to find the meaning of their existence and life experiences while addressing their basic needs. The theory aims to improve their overall quality of life and potentially ease their suffering (Papathanasiou, Sklavou, & Kourkouta, 2013, p. 2). Because terminally ill patients are often sent to medical institutions where they die unseen by society, this is the most vulnerable category of patients. Holistic need nursing will address all multidimensional problems f terminally ill patients in any setting. It means that the nurse will be present during the period of special requirements. This typically incorporates therapeutic communication, active communication and listening, and touch. Moreover, nurses will assist to recall all previous emotions, needs, and experiences to facilitate the adaptation to present circumstances, it may also incorporate breathing and meditation techniques, which will help to decrease undesirable symptoms (Papathanasiou, Sklavou, & Kourkouta, 2013, pp. 3-4). Overall, holistic need nursing is addressed to facilitate the acceptance of disease state at the same time deepening and enhancing values and needs of the terminally ill patient.  

The holistic need theory is logical. All of the concepts are interconnected and logically grounded. However, because the theory is based on a hypothesis, it cannot be tested. All of the results can be viewed from the short-term perspective, whereas long-term results cannot be evaluated.  

Holistic need theory addresses four major concepts, including human, health, environment, and nursing. The person is considered to be a whole entity, including their emotions, feelings, interests, and needs. The health status is the way of existing inside the world, which is viewed as the environment of the patient. The nursing practice is aimed at promoting harmonic interconnections between the person as the entire whole and the environment while enhancing the unity and integrity of the patient’s energy field. Nursing practice is directed at achieving the highest possible health potential.

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