Virginia Henderson’s Need Theory

Topic: Nursing
Words: 945 Pages: 3


The nursing practice in the past few years has drastically changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and technological advancement. The medical field is applying more new methods to battle diseases and help patients; thus, traditional methodologies have become useless. Nonetheless, some theories like Virginia Henderson’s need theory are fundamental for nursing education and practice. In this essay, two research papers that utilize Henderson’s approach will be discussed.

First research

The first research that will be discussed was conducted by Ph.D. candidates Younas Ahtisham and Sommer Jacoline on the topic “Integrating Nursing Theory and Process into Practice; Virginia’s Henderson Need Theory.” The research aims to address the gap between nursing theory and clinical practice in the Pakistani context. Henderson’s need theory was applied in the research methodology and used as a framework for study analysis.

The paper introduces Virginia Henderson and her need theory to understand the framework used in the research. The research is conducted as a case study, where patient Ms. X’s data was applied to fourteen principles of Henderson’s theory. Researchers assessed Ms. X’s symptoms in accordance with fourteen regulations in “Table 2” (Ahtisham, Y., & Jacoline, S., 2015, p. 3). Later, to show the application of the theory in clinical practice, they draw a table with possible nursing diagnoses. The last table shows the interventions made, representing the gap between nursing education and clinical practice. The researchers described all tables and the patient’s case using Henderson’s theory.

The concept of interest in this study is Henderson’s theory, which was used to frame data and produce conclusions in the research. A theoretical definition of the need theory was given at the beginning of the paper with Virginia Henderson’s introduction. The operational description of the theory was given later in the paper’s “Nursing Theory Process” part (Ahtisham, Y., & Jacoline, S., 2015, p. 4). In this part, the researcher focus on how Henderson viewed the nursing process.

The paper concludes that the gap between nursing theory and practice can be eliminated by using the theories in broader aspects. The case of Ms. X showed that Henderson’s theory could be easily applied in clinical practice to gather valid data about patients’ health and take action later. In addition, the theoretical and operational definitions of the need theory were not identified as different in the research, which shows that the theory is practical.

Second research

Another research to be discussed in this essay is written by Fernandes et al. with the topic “Nursing Diagnoses for Institutionalized Elderly People Based on Henderson’s Theory.” The objective of the research states that researchers aim to build nursing diagnostic statements for the elderly established in practice (Fernandes et al., 2019). The diagnostic statements in this descriptive research were developed utilizing international nursing practice classifications and Henderson’s model.

The research begins by introducing the fourteen principles of Henderson’s need theory. The research is descriptive and cross-sectional, which enables researchers to focus on analyzing the data using the need theory. The study gathered data from 215 older adults from April to September 2016 (Fernandes et al., 2019). The data analysis is mainly constructed by categorizing all data per Henderson’s model.

The concept of interest in the study is Henderson’s model, which was used as the framework for data in the research. “Chart 1” in the paper represents the nursing diagnosis of the patients whose data was gathered following the need theory’s fourteen principles (Fernandes et al., 2019, p. 4). The discussion part of the paper elaborates on every principle-diagnosis pair briefly and provides necessary conclusions. The conceptual definition of the need theory was shortly given in the report’s introduction, whereas the operational definition was given in the discussion part.

The research concluded that institutionalized elderly people have weak health conditions that are impacted by natural and social factors. The study also revealed that Henderson’s model is more effective for the target group of this research. The difference between theoretical and operational definitions of the theory was not found. Also, the need theory is suitable for research like this because it helps develop nursing diagnostic statements effectively.

Third research

The research conducted by Huitzi-Egilegor et al. has a topic “Implementation of the nursing process in a health area: models and assessment structures used” and is aimed to analyze which nursing practice has been used the most in Gipuzkoa health area. Henderson’s theory appears as a concept of interest in the research because it was identified as the most used practice in the area by the end of the research.

The theory was utilized in the research trend to find which other theory might replace or complement it. Henderson’s model did not appear as a framework of the research, but it was the main research object. It was conceptually defined in the introduction part and operationally defined in the discussion part. The conceptual definition is less important in the research because the study analyzes practical use of the model in the hospitals. Although the theory does not directly serve as a research framework, “Table 1” in the paper shows that data is categorized similarly to Henderson’s model (Huitzi-Egilegor et al., 2014). The research concluded that Henderson’s model is the most implemented one in nursing practice in Gipuzkoa area.


To conclude, the research studies discussed in this essay show that Henderson’s need theory is an essential model for nursing education and practice. The first discussed study showed that Henderson’s need theory is critical to eliminate the gap between nursing education and training. The following research showed that this theory is significantly effective in gathering and studying data of vulnerable social groups. Therefore, it is essential to employ this theory in the medical field.


Ahtisham, Y., & Jacoline, S. (2015). Integrating Nursing Theory and Process into Practice; Virginia’s Henderson Need Theory. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 8(2), 443-451.

Fernandes, B. K. C., Clares J. W. B., Borges C. L., da Nóbrega M. M. L., de Freitas, M. C. (2019). Nursing diagnoses for institutionalized older people are based on Henderson’s theory. Journal of School of Nursing University San Paolo, 53(0), e03472.

Huitzi-Egilegor J. X., Elorza-Puyadena M. I., Urkia-Etxabe J. M., Asurabarrena-Iraola, C. (2014). Implementation of the nursing process in a health area: models and assessment structures used. Revista latino-americana de enfermagem, 22(5), 772–777.

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