The Nursing Need Theory by Virginia Henderson

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The Nursing Need Theory by Virginia Henderson


I chose to watch the video about Virginia Henderson as she was one of the most influential nurses in history (Group E, 2010), and her theory of nursing is interesting to me. The video addressed the life and work of Virginia Henderson, as well as provided information regarding her nursing theory. The material was supplemented by quotes and facts, so I found it especially useful in the study of nursing theorists and their impact on nursing.

Henderson’s Theory

Virginia Henderson’s theory is frequently referred to as the Nursing Need Theory. First, she argued that the nurses care for the patient until he or she gains independence (Group E, 2010). She has also outlined the 14 human needs that the nurses help to fulfill. The needs relate to the health and wellbeing of a patient and include breathing, elimination of body waste, movement, sleep, and more (Group E, 2010). As part of her theory, Henderson also identified the meaning of four major nursing concepts (Petiprin, 2016). According to Henderson, the person is an individual who requires assistance to achieve health, independence, or a peaceful death (Petiprin, 2016).

Henderson emphasizes the biophysical needs of the patient rather than presenting him or her as a type of customer (Petiprin, 2016). Personally, I agree with Henderson’s definition of a person, although my personal philosophy is to perceive a person as a set of both physical and psychological components. I think that considering the psychological aspects of the patient’s wellbeing aids the nurse in building a strong connection to the patient, thus raising the quality of care provided. In terms of the environment, my personal philosophy agrees with Henderson’s theory. I see the environment as all external conditions that affect the individuals in one way or another, which suits Virginia Henderson’s view.

The nurse also argued that health represented the degree of a person’s ability to fulfill his fourteen needs sufficiently (Petiprin, 2016). She also believed that health is a concept that is highly impacted by the environment and that it is a nurse’s duty to stress health promotion and prevention along with the treatment of diseases (Petiprin, 2016). According to my personal philosophy, health is the reflection of external and internal influences on the person’s body and mind, which is similar to Henderson’s theory.

The final component of the theory, the nursing process, is viewed by Henderson as providing the care that helps the person to perform the fourteen components of health independently (Petiprin, 2016). Despite the fact that my personal nursing philosophy does not discuss the list of needs in detail, I agree that the main focus of care should be on the patient’s functioning and independence. However, I would also add that one of the duties in nursing is to support the person psychologically to avoid stress due to disease.


Overall, I found that the video is helpful and can be used as a starting point in understanding Henderson’s theory, as well as in finding out more about her life and work. The video does present any surprising facts or details but manages to provide essential information, which is why I would recommend it to a fellow student as an introduction to Henderson’s theory. Watching the video prompted me to think more about my personal philosophy and to consider different aspects that may be included in it, such as the nurse’s social role. It has also added to my exploration of the different nursing theories, which is essential as these theories form the basis of nursing work and education.


Group E. (2010). Virginia Avenel Henderson – Life, works and theory. [Video file].