Henderson’s Theory Paper

Henderson’s Theory Paper

Henderson’s nursing need theory was developed to define the focus of nursing based on the importance of patients’ independence in accelerating their progress in the hospital. The theory emphasizes basic human needs and how nurses in their practice can meet these needs. This discussion presents an opportunity in my nursing practice that would benefit from applying Henderson’s theory and how the definition aligns with the American Nurses Association’s definition of nursing.

Henderson's Theory Paper

For a better understanding of the application of Henderson’s theory in nursing practice, it is essential to begin by exploring the theory. Henderson’s nursing need theory stipulates that every individual has health needs that should be met to achieve health and independence or a peaceful death.

There are four major concepts addressed in Henderson’s needs theory: the individual, environment, health, and nursing. Using these four concepts, Henderson believed that every individual has basic needs, which form health needs. The individuals must get assistance in addressing these health needs, which is the role of nursing, helping individuals achieve health, independence, or a peaceful death.

Virginia Henderson identified the 14 basic needs that form the health needs, which are breathing, eating and drinking, eliminating body waste, movement, rest/sleep, dressing/undressing, temperature, hygiene/skin, safety, communication, learning, worshipping one’s faith, play/recreation and working to a sense of accomplishment (Lopez et al., 2020). When offering palliative care, one of the opportunities in nursing practice where I can apply the needs theory. Even though all patients have needs, terminally ill patients requiring palliative care require more assistance in addressing their basic needs since they will live with the illness. While offering palliative and end-of-life care, the nurse is required to assist the patient in meeting their basic health needs.

According to Jack, Kinloch & O’Brien (2019), it is the nurses’ responsibility to ensure that the patients are safe, maintain the appropriate hygiene and temperature, eat and drink as required, and help the patients eliminate body waste. Additionally, the nurse can work with the family members, especially if the patient is receiving care at home, to facilitate movement, communication, recreation and learning that influences health achievement or ease the journey to approaching a peaceful death. Nurses are best suited to offer these services since they spend the most time with the patients and are closest to them and their family members.

Henderson’s definition of nursing is that the basic and unique function of the nurse is to help an individual, whether they are well or ailing, in the activities that contribute to health, recovery, or peaceful death, which the nurse performs unaided if they have the strength, knowledge, and will. The American Nurses Association’s definition of nursing, on the other hand, is the protecting, promoting, and optimizing health and abilities, preventing health and injury, facilitating healing and preventing injury through diagnosis and treatment of human response and the care of individuals, families, health populations, groups, and communities.

Henderson’s definition of nursing aligns with the American Nurses Association’s definition of nursing practice. Both definitions include the needs of the patient. Henderson’s definition majorly focuses on patients’ needs as the heart of the nursing practice. In contrast, the American Nurses Association’s definition maintains that addressing the patient’s needs is the heart of nursing.

In conclusion, Henderson’s needs theory identified the basic needs that form health needs and defined nursing practice as the aim to assist patients in meeting these needs, thus achieving health or a peaceful death. Henderson’s needs theory can be applied in palliative and end-of-life care. The definition of nursing practice in Henderson’s needs theory is aligned with the American Nurses Association’s definition of nursing practice.


Jack, B. A., Kinloch, K., & O’Brien, M. R. (2019). Teaching nurses to teach: A qualitative study of nurses’ perceptions of the impact of education and skills training to prepare them to teach end‐of‐life care. Journal of Clinical Nursing28(9-10), 1819-1828. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocn.14786

Lopez, M., Jimenez, J. M., Fernández-Castro, M., Martin-Gil, B., Garcia, S., Cao, M. J., Frutos-Martin, M., & Castro, M. J. (2020). Impact of Nursing Methodology Training Sessions on Completion of the Virginia Henderson Assessment Record. Nursing Reports (Pavia, Italy)10(2), 106–114. https://doi.org/10.3390/nursrep10020014

The American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Practice and scope of practice. https://www.nursingworld.org/