Self-care deficit nursing theory

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The self-care deficit nursing theory is a grand nursing theory that was developed between 1959 and 2001 by Dorothea Orem. The theory is also referred to as the Orem's Model of Nursing. This theory originates from the totality paradigm based on human beings being able to adapt to one’s environment.[1] It is widely used in nursing literature and has displayed improved quality of care based on results from various randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the nursing discipline.[1] It is particularly used in rehabilitation and primary care settings, where the patient is encouraged to be as independent as possible. The theory has also been applied in nursing education to evaluate self-care needs of nursing students.[2]

Central philosophy[edit]

The nursing theory is based upon the philosophy that all "patients wish to care for themselves". They can recover more quickly and holistically if they are allowed to perform their own self-cares to the best of their ability. Orem's self-care deficit nursing theory emphasized on establishing the nursing perspectives regarding human and practice.[3]

Self-care requisites[edit]

Self-care requisites are groups of needs or requirements that Orem identified. They are classified as either:

  • Universal self-care requisites: those needs that all people have
  • Developmental self-care requisites
    • 1. maturational: progress toward higher levels of maturation.
    • 2. situational: prevention of deleterious effects related to development.
  • Health deviation requisites: those needs that arise as a result of a patient's condition

Self-care deficits[edit]

When an individual is unable to meet their own self-care requisites, a "self-care deficit" occurs. It is the job of the Registered Nurse to determine these deficits, and define a support modality.

Support modalities[edit]

Nurses are encouraged to rate their patient's dependencies or each of the self-care deficits on the following scale:

  • Total Compensation
  • Partial Compensation
  • Educative/Supportive

Universal Self-Care Requisites (SCRs)[edit]

The Universal Self-Care Requisites that are needed for health are:

  • Air[4]
  • Water[4]
  • Food[4]
  • Elimination[4]
  • Activity and Rest[4]
  • Solitude and Social Interaction[4]
  • Hazard Prevention[4]
  • Promotion of Normality[4]

The nurse is encouraged to assign a support modality to each of the self-care requisites.


  1. ^ a b Younas, Ahtisham (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. doi:10.1891/1078-4535.23.1.13. PMID 28196563.
  2. ^ Younas, Ahtisham (2017-12-20). "Self-care behaviors and practices of nursing students: Review of literature". Journal of Health Sciences. 7 (3): 137–145. doi:10.17532/jhsci.2017.420. ISSN 1986-8049.
  3. ^ Shah, M., Abdullah, A., & Khan, H. (2015). Compare and Contrast of Grand Theories: Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory and Roy’s Adaptation Model. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NURSING, 5(1).
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h G., Taylor, Susan; McLaughlin., Renpenning, Kathie (2001). Nursing : concepts of practice. Mosby. ISBN 978-0323008648. OCLC 45103042.
  • Dorothea Orem's Self-Care Theory
  • Dorothea Orem's Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory
  • Hartweg, Donna (1991). Dorothea Orem: Self-Care Deficit Theory. Notes on Nursing Theories 4. Sage Publications. p. 1. ISBN 0803942990
  • Renpenning KM, SozWiss GB, Denyes MJ, Orem DE, Taylor SG. Nurs Sci Q. 2011 Explication of the nature and meaning of nursing diagnosis.Apr;24(2):130-6. doi: 10.1177/0894318411399451
  • Orem DE, Taylor SG.Nurs Sci Q. 2011 Reflections on nursing practice science: the nature, the structure, and the foundation of nursing sciences.Jan;24(1):35-41. doi: 10.1177/0894318410389
  • Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Dorothea Orem Collection