Nursing Theories Nightingale and Henderson


NursingTheories: Nightingale and Henderson

FlorenceNightingale’s Environmental Theory

Theenvironmental theory was developed by Florence Nightingale, who isconsidered to be the first nursing theorist. The theory states thatnursing is an act of assisting a patient to recover by using his orher environment. According to the theory, nursing involves theinitiative of the nurse to modify the settings of the environment towork for gradual recovery of a patient and restoration of the healthof a patient (Wilkinson&amp Treas, 2010).The theory further states that the role of a nurse is to utilize theexternal factors that are associated with the surroundings of thepatient in order to affect the physiologic processes of the patienttowards recovery.

Inthe theory, Nightingale addresses nursing by stating that it only hasto do with putting the patient in conditions that are best for him orher to recover. Nightingale argues that nursing is the act thatallows nature to act upon a patient by letting the best environmentalconditions take a course (Peterson&amp Bredow, 2009).In this regard, Nightingale states that nursing should signify themost appropriate utilization of light, fresh air, cleanliness, warmthas well as diet. This is because Nightingale view nursing as the artof unmaking what diseases were meant to be two human beings,therefore it is a reparative proves.

Accordingto the theory, Nightingale views persons as part of the relationshipwith the environment. Through the theory, Nightingale does notspecifically address people or human beings as their own, but as partof the environment. According to Nightingale, people interact withthe environment to create impacts that affect them and impact onothers (Peterson&amp Bredow, 2009).Therefore, significance of people is felt through the impact of theenvironment.

Nightingalefurther addresses the environment as anything that surrounds thehuman beings. The environment constitutes all the conditions thatsurround a person and work for him or against him. According to thetheory, the environment has both the positive impact as well asnegative impact (Peterson&amp Bredow, 2009).According to Nightingale, the environment is anything that impacts onhuman beings in relation to their health.

Inthis regard, Nightingale addresses health in an indirect manner. Inthe theory, Nightingale does not expressly define health, butaddresses the opposite of it which is understood by observing.According to Nightingale, the health is the state that nursing seemsto work to restore by working against what is made to exist asdiseases (Wilkinson&amp Treas, 2010).Therefore, Nightingale asserts that the role of nursing is to restorethe health of the patient through the activities involved in thepractice. In the same way, Nightingale addresses illness as theabsence of what should be in a healthy person. Through theunderstanding, it is important to note that Nightingale views illnessas the situation that nurses should focus on working to turn tohealth.

Theenvironmental theory of nursing by Nightingale is applicable I thereactive of nursing today. The theory gives insights to the primaryrole of a nurse as to unmake what diseases create by their existence.This way, a nurse understands the main ole as well as the secondaryroles that work towards facilitating a healthy person. In addition,the theory gives the nurse a perspective to understand every aspectof life as it relates to health and people (Peterson&amp Bredow, 2009).Through the theory, a nurse understands the impact of theenvironment, environmental factors, people, illness and diseases, onthe role of the nursing practice. Finally, the theory is applicablein understanding the impact of various environmental factors to thesuccess of the nursing practice.

VirginiaHenderson’s Nursing Theory

Inher nursing theory, Henderson provides a theory that defines nursingbased on the basic human needs. The theory states that the nursing isthe practice of giving care to the patient when he has no physicalstrength, the will or knowledge to act for himself. According toHenderson, nursing provides this care to a patient because he cannotbe able to take care of himself as he would if he had the normalhealth. According to Henderson, nursing is complex and requirescreativity because it involves the provision of service through theuse of social, biological and physical sciences (Peterson&amp Bredow, 2009).Therefore, the nurse should develop his or her nursing skills basedon these sciences and primary role to solve the needs of patients.

Accordingto Henderson, nursing is a unique function of assisting individuals,whether sick or not. The assistance of nursing is focused to helppeople perform the activities that lead to health. Hendersonaddresses a person as an individual who acts independently to stayhealthy (Wilkinson&amp Treas, 2010).If he or she cannot stay healthy, then the person is a patient whoneeds nursing care. The theory bases its argument on the premise thatnursing is only significant if the patient cannot be able to performsuch services unaided. Therefore, nursing should help the patient toreach the independence of performing the activities unaided.

Eventhough Henderson does not explicitly define health, she describes thesituation at the state of balance at all the aspects of human life.According to the theory, health is the goal that is achieved if aperson can independently act all the activities that lead to thebalance in life (Peterson&amp Bredow, 2009).Similarly, Henderson does not expressly address illness. Instead, theillness is described as the lack of the balance in life that leads tothe inability of a person to independently perform activities thatled to health.

Hendersonaddresses the environment by including the need for a supportiveenvironment as part of her 14 activities that lead to health. WhileHenderson asserts the importance of the environment, she does notexpressly focus on its impact on an individual (Wilkinson&amp Treas, 2010).For instance, Henderson describes an individual in relation to his orher family, but does not illustrate the impact of the family on theindividual. However, Henderson supports the role of nurses, thesociety and public health agencies in helping the nursing practice tobuild a healthy person.

Thetheory by Henderson is significantly applicable to the practice ofnursing today. Henderson provides a perspective of understanding thesituation that the patient is exposed to by diseases. Through thetheory, a nurse understands the role of nursing in helping a patientto recover by assisting him or her to perform the activities thatsupport health. In addition, the theory is applicable by giving theunderstanding of the primary role of nursing in helping the patientto recover and gaining the independence back. At the same time,Henderson provides an understanding of the nursing practice asessential to both the sick and the healthy people. Therefore,Henderson gives a theory that is relevant to the nursing andapplicable in the modern practice.


Peterson,S.J., &amp Bredow, T.S. (2009). MiddleRange Theories: Application to Nursing Research.Philadelphia:Lippincott Williams &amp Wilkins

Wilkinson,J.M., &amp Treas, L.S. (2010). Fundamentals of Nursing – Volume 1:Theory, Concepts, and Applications.