Virginia Henderson (1955, 1966, 1969, 1978)

Person/Client: A whole, complete, and independent being who has 14  fundamental needs to breathe, eat and drink, eliminate, move and maintain posture, sleep and rest, dress and undress, maintain body temperature, keep clean, avoid danger, communicate, worship, work, play and learn.

Environment: The aggregate of the external conditions and influences affecting the life and development of an organism

Health: Viewed in terms of the individuals ability to perform 14 components of nursing care unaided (eg, breathe normally, eat and drink adequately). Health is quality of life basic to human functioning and requires independence and interdependence.  It is the quality of health rather life itself that allows people to work most effectively and to teach their highest potential level of satisfaction in life. Individuals will achieve or maintain health if they have necessary strength, will, or knowledge.

Nursing: The unique function of the nurse is to assist clients, sick or well, in performing those activities contributing to health, its recovery, or peaceful death – activities that client would perform unaided if they had the necessary strength, will, or knowledge. Al;so, to do so in such a way as to help clients gain independence as rapidly as possible.

Henderson’s Definition of Nursing:

In 1955, Virginia Henderson formulated a definition of the unique function of nursing. This definition was a major stepping-stone in the emergence of nursing as a discipline separate from medicine. Basic to her definition are various assumptions about the individual: namely, that the individual (a) needs to maintain physiologic and emotional balance, (b) requires assistance to achieve health and independence or a peaceful; death, and (c) needs the necessary strength, will, or knowledge to achieve or maintain health. These needs give direction to the  nurse’s role.

Henderson cenceptualized the nurse’s role as assisting sick or well individuals in a supplementary or complementary way. The nurse needs to be a partner with the patient, a helper to the paitent, and, when necessary, a substitute for the patient. The nurse’s focus is to thelp individuals and families (which she viewed as a unit) to gain independence in meeting 14 fundamental needs (Henderson 1966):

1. Breathing normally.

2. Eating and drinking adequately.

3. Eliminaitng body wastes.

4. Moving and maintining a desirable position.

5. Sleeping and resting.

6. Selecting suitbale clothes.

7. maintianing body temperature within normal range by adjusting clothing and modifying the environamnet.

8. Keeping the body clean and well-groomed to protect the integument.

9. Avoiding dangers in the environment and avoiding inhuring others.

10. Coomunicating with others in expressing emotions, needs, fears, or oipinions.

11. worshiping according to one’s faith.

12. working in such a way that one feels a sense of accomplishment.

13. Playing or participating in various forms of recreations.

14. Learning, discovering, or satisfying the curiosity that leads to normal development and health, and using available health facilities.

Kozier, Barbara et.al  Fundamentals of Nursing. 5th edition

Addison-Wesley Publishing company, Inc. 1998. p. 47

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One Response to “Virginia Henderson (1955, 1966, 1969, 1978)”

  1. Kabiru Ogundipe Olayinka 15. Nov, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    What a nice definition !
    This definition needs to be known by everybody in nursing proffession which wil help all to understand the concept and act according to the philosophy of nursing proffession.

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