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Theorist Dorothea Orem

Theorist Dorothea Orem

Sample Answer 

Theorist Dorothea Orem


The term ‘theory’ generally refers to a precise and creative set of concepts/ideas that predict or portray a systematic, coherent, meaningful, and tentative perspective of phenomena (Chinn & Kramer, 2010). It is a systematic collection of closely linked ideas that suggest action that direct practice. A nursing theory, therefore, refers to a group of propositions, assumptions, relationships, definitions, or concepts coined from nursing approaches and predict a systematic, purposive perception of phenomena (ideas) by proposing particular inter-relationships among ideas for reasons for prescribing, predicting, explaining, and describing. Nursing theories also serve as the basis of the nursing practice, assisting nurses in churning out more ideas and knowledge as well as showing the direction the discipline should take in the future. Over the years, several theorists have proposed a range of critical theories, some of which have revolutionized and shaped the nursing practice. One such theorist was Dorothea Orem (1951-2001), who developed the ‘Self-Care Deficit Theory’ (Younas, 2017). This paper will primarily focus on analyzing this theory’s main concepts and ideas, what influenced its development, the values and evidence that support it, the things that motivated its development, and its application in practice.

The Main Ideas/Concepts and Assumptions of the Theory

Dorothy Orem first proposed Orem’s self-care theory in 1971. The theory posits that all patients wish to take care of themselves (meet self-care requisites). Orem argues that when patients are accorded the opportunity to carry out self-care without interference, they are likely to heal and recover faster and holistically (Younas, 2017). Therefore, one of the major assumptions of this theory is that individuals need to be self-reliant and liable for their own well-being and care. Furthermore, the theory assumes that people are unique and autonomous as well as nursing is a type of action that depends on the interaction between two or more individuals. The other conjecture is that achieving primary care prevention and healing from disease is arrived after an individual meets and develops universal and self-care requisites. Besides, a patient’s knowledge of possible health issues is required to encourage self-care habits/behaviors. Finally, dependent care and self-care habits are acquired within the social and cultural contexts. However, suppose an individual/patient is incapable of achieving their individual self-care requisites/needs. In that case, there is a possibility of ‘self-care deficits’ (shortfalls) setting in, and it is the duty of nurses to identify these deficits and provide support to patients (Biggs, 2008).

What Influenced the Development of the Theory?

This theory was primarily developed to allow nurses to offer patients more autonomy and control of their care plans, including treatment options. Orem also coined the theory to augment the general quality/superiority of nursing care in American hospitals and improve other patient health outcomes, including patient satisfaction. In 1971, the concept of Orem’s theory emerged first when Dorothy finished the award-winning edition Nursing: Concepts of Practice (Renpenning et al., 2003). Dorothy, specifically, thought that individuals hold an innate capability for self-motivated care. She believed that nursing should primarily focus on assisting people to achieve self-care.

Values, Theories, Evidence, or Existing Knowledge Cited by Dorothy to Support the Theory

Dorothy Orem identified and defined three interrelated theories to create the Self-Care theory: the theory of self-care, the theory of nursing systems, and the self-care deficit theory. Orem defined the self-care theory as the philosophy that concentrates on the practice and execution of activities that people launch and perform at a personal level and for their own benefit to sustain well-being, health, and life. Self-care requisites are the key concept in this theory (Renpenning et al., 2003). Orem categorized the ‘self-care requisites’ (requirements and needs) into three major categories, including universal (food, water, air, promotion of normality, social interaction and solitude, rest and activity, elimination, and hazard promotion), developmental (situational and maturational), and deviation (those needs occurring due to ill health or individual’s condition). In the second model, the self-care deficit theory is applied when a grownup is unable to provide or continue supporting adequate self-care. According to Orem, this is where a registered nurse comes in, especially to offer guidance, support, counseling, or an environment that encourages individual growth. The final theory (nursing system theory) focuses on the interactions between a nurse and a patient. The nursing necessity/need is triggered when the patient’s self-care needs overpower existing self-care agencies.


One factor that motivated Dorothy to develop the self-deficit theory is to allow people to harness their potential to practice autonomous self-care, which is also critical in maximizing individual care outcomes comprehensively and holistically (Renpenning et al., 2003). Besides, Dorothy was inspired by the idea of allowing nurses to help patients in instances they cannot take care of themselves, including during sickness, surgery, and so on. Orem’s theory emphasizes nursing practice as a reactive process as opposed to a proactive one.

What motivated the theorist to write the theory?

Implementation of the Theory

In practice, this theory can be used by nurses to help patients (or their families) to meet described and identified health-linked outcomes. In addition, the theory can be very vital in the diagnosis of self-care deficits in patients that require a provider’s attention (Irshad, 2018). This explains or defines the nursing role in care management. This is achieved by collecting and assessing patient information. In addition, Orem’s theory can be applied in designing effective treatment or organization plans, which can aid the patient in returning to normalcy. Finally, the theory can be used in the intervention phase by allowing nurses to put the right actions into practice, thus assisting patients in developing self-care independence (Irshad, 2018). For example, suppose a patient is in a vegetative state and is incapable of feeding own self. In that case, Orem’s self-deficit theory suggests that the role of the nurse is to support the patient by providing a feeding gastronomy tube. This should be done to support and maintain the well-being of the patient, but training is also needed to allow the patient to be self-sufficient.


Nursing theories predict and suggest the existing inter-relationships among ideas for reasons of prescribing, predicting, explaining, and describing. Nursing theories also serve as the basis of the nursing practice, assisting nurses in churning out more ideas and knowledge as well as showing the direction the discipline should take in the future. As a grand nursing model, Orem’s self-deficit theory advocates for individual self-care. The theory posits that all patients/people desire to take care of their own health needs. Orem argues that when patients are given a chance to carry out self-care without interference, they are likely to heal and recover faster and holistically. This theory also is anchored on the notion that nursing practice should play an integral role by supporting patients when they cannot perform self-care.


Irshad, A. B. H. (2018). Application of Orem self-care deficit theory on the psychiatric patient. Annals of Nursing and Practice, 5(1), 1093-1096.

Biggs, A. (2008). Orem’s self-care deficit nursing theory: Update on the state of the art and science. Nursing Science Quarterly, 21(3), 200. Retrieved from

Chinn, P., & Kramer, M. (2010). Integrated Theory & Knowledge Development in Nursing (8th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby.

Renpenning, K., et al. (2003). Self-care theory in nursing: Selected papers of Dorothea Orem. Springer Publishing Company.

Younas, A. (2017). A foundational analysis of Dorothea Orem’s self-care theory and evaluation of its significance for nursing practice and research. Creative Nursing, 23(1), 13-23.


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Theorist Dorothea Orem

In a 2-4 page paper not including the title page and the reference page

  • Describe the main ideas of the theory (should include the assumptions under which the theory operates. Identify the main concepts of the selected nursing theory
  • What was going on in the profession of nursing or in the American society that may have influenced the theory?
  • What values, theories, evidence, and/or existing knowledge did the theorist cite as support for the theory?
  • What motivated the theorist to write the theory?
  • How do you implement the components/concepts of this theory in your nursing practice. Give an example.

    Theorist Dorothea Orem

    Theorist Dorothea Orem

Sources are to be from a scholarly peer-reviewed nursing journal article and the course text book. [Masters, K. (2015). Nursing theories: A framework for professional practice. (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett]
APA 7th format required, headings title page with running head.
Title page should have the title of the paper, your name, course ,college and Date
Primary references must be from peer reviewed NURSING journals less than 5 years old and course textbook. One other reference may be from a supplemental reference. They are as follows: National professional, governmental, education organizations (.org, .gov, and .edu).

All works should be paraphrased and cited. If there is a need for direct quotes I will not accept more than 20 words in a direct quote and with the correct citation. According to Author ( 2019), “nursing theories are the basis for nursing practice” ( p. 3).

The paper must have an introductory paragraph preceded by a title. Please be reminded that the word introduction is not to be used as a title. I want only level one headings to separate the ideas in the paper. The last heading should be Conclusion where you summarize the paper. Your paper can be 2- 4 pages of content excluding a title page and a reference page.

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