11.07.2019 in Review

Need Theory

In the field of nursing, there are many procedures and practices that the medical practitioners need to familiarize with and apply. Need concept is one of the most required and applied theories in the nursing field as it is a requirement to treat all the patients well (Giske & Cone, 2012). The need theory was introduced by Virginia Henderson with an aim to outline the unique focus of nursing practice. She emphasizes the need to improve patient interdependence to improve healing progress even after hospitalization. This theory states that it is the role of the medical practitioners to follow up on clients to justify their recovery. Looking at beneficence, veracity, caring and expertise as the other concepts related to the need theory, this paper looks at how nurses should conduct themselves while meeting different patient’s needs.  It also provides a model diagram that visually describes the dependence of the concepts and how they support the need theory. The paper looks at aspects like moral and ethical practices, honesty, truthfulness and much more. Finally, the paper gives a summary and conclusion of the need theory, and its relevance, as in the way they interrelate. Relating all these variables and using them appropriately results in quick recovery improvement of the overall health of patients.

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Literature Review

Ahtisham and Jacoline (2015) conducted a case study to test the utilization of the need theory in nursing. In this study, the authors defined the need theory as the importance of increasing patient’s independence after hospitalization. As according to the source, Henderson defined nursing as her concept. Her illustration of need theory has four major concepts; individual, environment, health and nursing. She categorizes nursing activities into fourteen elements based on human needs. Some of these elements include breath normally, sleep and rest, eliminate body waste, eat and drink adequately, and keeping the body clean.  She describes nursing roles as supplementary, substitutive, and complementary. Being supplementary means that a nurse has the role in helping the patient, substitutive means doing for the patient, and complementary is working together with the patient. He states that the role of a nurse is to assist the individuals whether sick or well in performing activities that that contribute to quick recovery.
The study conducted by Ahtisham and Jacoline (2015) involves a case study of a 25 years old female client who was admitted to hospital with attempted suicide. The client was under depression a few days before her wedding day and decided to kill herself. She did not comply with medication and her health status deteriorated. This case utilized need theory concept to achieve a successful healing process. The author emphasized the importance of utilizing the need theory concept in nursing diagnosis, planning, outcome, implementation, and evaluation. The authors also identify the need theory as a relevant concept in a clinical setting and can provide a framework to identify caring needs.
The authors state that it is important for health practitioners for health practitioners to make sure that they satisfy patients’ needs whether in hospital settings or at their homes. In hospitals, there are many medical workers with different roles such as physicians, health educators, nurses, social workers, and much more. Therefore, there must be a defined role in each of the people to help them reach to their respective patients and perform these duties satisfactorily.
Kim and Kollak (2006) argues that the concept of need is widely utilized in nursing theory and practice. The authors recognize the work of Abraham Maslow (1954, 1970) as an important foundation for the need theory. Kim and Kollak (2006) affirms that the use of the concept of need without philosophical evidence leads to unintended consequences. For instance, the reproduction of social situations that re against the currently accepted ideals of nursing. The authors recognize Henderson’s needs theory as one of the most important need theories.  The authors ascertain that nursing need theories were introduced to answer to function question, of what the nurses do. They need theory provides answers to this question by stating that nurses need to assist patients meet their needs.
Waller-Wise (2013) elaborates on how Henderson’s need theory can be applied in child education. To support his argument, the author utilizes the 14 concepts of the need theory. The nursing theory delineates specific areas where care is needed. The source describes how the 14 basic needs are utilized while advice women in antenatal care. The first concept is on how to breathe normally. The author discourages pregnant women to hold their breath and encourages the use of slow breathing as helps with relaxation. With regards to eating and drinking appropriately, the author advocates that women should eat a balanced diet to prepare for labor process. He affirms that sleep and rest improve the ability to manage the pain of labor.
This article provides information on how a nurse can apply need theory in its conceptual framework. Childbirth educators can use the need theory as a theoretical background for building a curriculum. The use of the 14 concepts of the need theory helps childbirth educators in forming a basis for their arguments. The framework does not only work as a basis for childbirth education, but it also improves personal contemplation, communication skills, and provide value clarification.
Henderson (2006), explains the need theory to the roles that health workers play in providing care for patients.  As stated by the source, some earlier need theories are outdated such as Maslow’s human need theory, as they assume the nurse as the soul decision maker leaving out the aspects of the environment, the patient, and the interaction process. However, Henderson’s need theory accounts for the environment and social factors. Thus, nurses can rely on it on their nursing practices.  There is a rapid change in the way people undertake their duties and in the nursing settings. Recently, businesses and activities run in a 24-hour routine which calls for increased care to the people running these activities. The care need for the people requires different professionals to handle the different problems. While under medication, patients do not have knowledge of what to do with their care and requires advice. This need motivates the medical practitioners to enhance a program that keeps them near all the patients either ones dying or the ones recovering. International Council of Nurses (ICN), which reviews the practices of nurses has introduced a very helpful concept. It aims to give the medical practitioners a sense of humanity in which they should value the patient’s worth. The theory states that, even if death is inevitable, it is good to show appreciation to the departing ones and ensure a quality send-off. Nurses should not stigmatize any patient because of the infection or even inflict fear on them. There is a need to give every patient an improved care and regular checking.
Crossan & Robb (1998) describes how the need theory explains the roles of a nurse. The authors explain the nursing roles by the use of two other nursing theories; interaction and outcome theory. As according to the authors, nursing is a complex and multifaceted. The source recognized Henderson’s need theory as one of the widely use theories in nursing. Nursing roles are identified as the function to help the sick or well individual.  It is also the role of the nurse to execute activities that contribute to recovery and good health. The source also states that it is the role to increase patient’s independence in the healing process.  The source emphasizes that a nurse is an independent entity however nursing is carried out as part of a wider health plan. The two roles of nursing are complementary as a nurse is expected to work alone and also work as a team to fulfill desired objective. The roles of nursing are further described with regards to need theory concerning five aspects that include; giving physical and psychological support, acting and doing for the patient, providing an appropriate environment that supports development, guiding, and educating the community on how to care for themselves.


Need theory and concept are not mandatory to the nurses or the medical practitioners, but voluntary. Wherever there are patients attending a particular hospital or healthcare, it is the mandate of the medical team to ensure that these patients get the best recovery, and if there is anyone who cannot recover, they make that he/she gets the best final treatments. There are many ways to respond to the needs of the patients according to their areas of recovery their geographical areas and much more. In the case of patients who are in the hospitals, their needs are easy to fulfill as the nurse just visits them in their respective wards. However, as there are those patients who cannot call for help because of the kind of ailment affecting them, it is the duty of the nurses to visit and attend to them. Therefore, it is importance to improve patient’s independence in the healing process.
The literature review portrays need theory as an important aspect of nursing care. It provides a framework that guides various nursing practices. For instance, it can act as a guide for childbirth educators in formulating an education curriculum. The fourteen concepts of the need theory form the basis of the curriculum. The literature also reveals that the need theory recognizes a multidisciplinary as an important aspect of nursing practices. However, the theory distinguishes the role of a nurse as an individual and as a team. The application of the need theory by Ahtisham and Jacoline (2015) fits the need concept perfectly as it uses a case study to determine how the need theory applies in a case of psychologically ill patient. Ahtisham and Jacoline (2015) provides a clear picture on how all the 14 concepts integrates into the healing process. The authors identify that the roles of the environment, individual, health, and nursing contributes a lot in the recovery process. Therefore, it is the role of the nurse to ensure that all the four factors are catered for while providing nursing needs.

Other Pertinent Concepts


This action defines the moral concept and obligations in every work settings. In nursing, nurses have the obligation to take care of other people and in a manner that shows they are guided by ethical standards. In the practice, there are codes of ethics that govern the practitioners and makes them behave in a manner that all the people who come into contact with feel appreciated and acknowledged. Moral concepts guide any professional to undertaking their activities with due diligence (Kennedy, 2004). The aim of choosing this concept is because it relates to the theory of need and its practices. As for the needs, after treatment it is not the right of the patient to access help from the hospital or the health care he/she was admitted. However, as it is volunteer-ship, the nurses and the medical practitioners offering the help should do it with utmost good faith. For example, there is no one who will pay the medical professionals visiting the disadvantaged people the society. Therefore, upon making the visit and offering the required advice, they should conduct their activities as if there are compensations (Kennedy, 2004). There is also an example of the nursing home for the old people. Attendants to the elderly should make sure they tolerate them and give them the best assistance to their needs.


Veracity describes the act of truthfulness and honesty. Most of the times, people fail to talk the truth especially when they are offering assistance to others. People prefer payments of the goods or the services they deliver and give it to their best so that they can retain the service delivery of their client. They get the motivation from the pay they get and work extra hard to deliver quality and recommendable services (Maier-Lorentz, 2008). In the case of the need theory in the patients, the nurses or the medical practitioners may get nothing from assisting the patient recover. Therefore, to be honest, and truthful, the professionals offering help to the needs of the patient should do it with a clean heart. In the case of the illness of the patient and the correct medication that they can get, an honest and truthful professional will assist the patient in the correct manner. For example, there are hospitals that do not have particular services or the medicine that the patient may require. As an honest person or professional, the nurses should direct the patient to the place where they can purchase the medicine or get the necessary treatment. Upon discharging them, the hospital management knows the fate of the patient where they can advise on if this patient will survive or if they will die. It is an honorable thing to do to inform even if it is one member of the family that their patient will not make it to the recovery (Maier-Lorentz, 2008). They should also make follow ups to see how they are faring on and give them advice on how to handle the patient. These actions are very good as they portray the true action of the real professionals that wants the best for the society.


There is an intertwine action between nursing and caring. Nursing may be described as the synonym for caring where nurses are expected to care for others and give them the best. In the need theory, patients are a delicate substance and needs the best care for them to recover well. According to Lachman (2012), the action of love and care give life its significance and showing it to the sick makes relieved and they recover quickly. While fulfilling the needs of the patients, nurses and the medical practitioners should show care and much love to them. They should offer extended services beyond the ones the patients ask and learn (Häggström, Asplund & Kristiansen, 2012). Older people require and demand a lot of care more as they grow old. Showing care to the aged people makes them feel loved and younger. According to the nursing profession, they are taught on how well to handle people of different ages. In the nursing homes, they should treat the patients softly and offer them whatever they want.


To succeed, there is the need for expertise in every undertaking.  As the most crucial profession in the world and the one that requires no mistake, nurses needs to have the high quality of expertise (Johnston & Smith, 2006). This expertise has to apply to all the patients that seek the services of the nurses either in paying, voluntary and other services. In the need theory, the body of a person or the patient is very delicate. Therefore, wherever the nurses make follow ups to these patients, they should make sure they apply high and most expertise. They should ensure that there are no mistakes done or guess work. Whenever they visit the sick people especially the pregnant women and children, they should handle their issues with utmost expertise.


The model (see figure 1) explains on the need theory in a picture representation. The blue color is the most powerful as it carries the concept. Arrows describe the flow and relations of the pertinent to the need theory. For example, from the need theory to the beneficence pertinent. The rectangle shows the need theory and the triangles describe the four pertinent. The red triangles indicate the ethical concepts while the green ones describe the philosophy pertinent. Finally, as the pertinent requires definitions and explanations, the oval shaped and shaded yellow represents the explanation for the pertinent.


It is every person’s right to have better healthcare and get the best treatment from the medical practitioners. Patients have different needs and which calls for diversified intervention from the medical teams. As after the attention medical patients will not have recovered fully, they need attention and care. There are many kinds of patients and who require the specified care from the medical teams. Spreading the medical services to all the people in the community is the best thing to do by the medical teams. Even without the follow up on the recovery procedures, they should involve other people especially the disadvantaged in the society. As the services and the patients follow activities are free for the patients, the nurses should not involve in some immoral and use of less expertise to these patients. Care and love are the keys to the better recovery of the patients, and the nurses should show the patients these aspects and assist them to know the necessary medication they should undertake for them to recover in the right manner.

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