Dorothea E. Orem

Dorothea E. Orem
Dorothea E. Orem


A unity who can be viewed as functioning biologically, symbolically, and socially and who initiates  and performs self-care activities on own behalf in maintaining life, health and well-being; self-care activities deal with air, water, food elimination, activity and rest, solitude and social interaction, prevention of hazards to life and well-being, and promotion of human functioning.


The environment is linked to the individual, forming an integrated and interactive system.


Health is a state that is characterized by soundness or wholeness of developed human structures and of bodily and mental functioning. It includes physical, psychologic, interpersonal, and social aspects. Well-being is used in the sense of individual’s perceived condition of existence. Well-being is a state characterized by experiences of contentment, pleasure and certain kinds  of happiness; by spiritual experiences; by movement toward fulfillment of one’s ideal; and by continuing personalization. Well-being is associated with health, with success in  personal endeavors, and with sufficiency of resources.


A helping or assisting service to persons who are wholly or partly dependent-infants, children and adults – when they, their parents, guardians, or other adults responsible for their care are no longer able to give  or supervise their care.  A creative effort of one human being to help another human being. Nursing is deliberate action, a function of the practical intelligence of nurses, and action to bring about humanely desirable conditions in persons and their environments. It is distinguished from other human services and other forms of care by its focus on human beings.

Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory

Dorothy Orem’s self-care deficit theory, published first in 1971, has been widely accepted by the nursing community. It includes three related theories of self-care, self-care deficit, and nursing system. Self-care theory postulates that self-care and the self-care of dependents are learned behaviors that individuals initiate and perform on theri own behalf to maintian life, health, and well-being. The individual’s ability to perform self care is called self-care agency. Adults care for themselves, whereas infants, the aged, the ill, and the disabled require assistance with self-care activities.

These are three kinds of self-care requisites:

1. Universal requisites, common to all people, include the maintenance of air, water, food, elimination, activity and rest, solitude and social interaction; prevention of hazards to life and well-being; and the promotion of human functioning.

2. Developmental requisites are those associated with conditions that promote known developmental processes throughout the life cycle.

3. Health deviation requisites relates to defects and deviations from normal structure and integrity that impair an individual’s ability to perform self-care.

Self-care deficit theory asserts that people benefit from nursing because they have health-related limitations in providing self-care. Limitations may result from illness, injury, of form the effects of medical tests or treatments.Two variables affect these deficits: self-care agency (ability) and therapeutic self-care demands (the measures of care required to meet existing requisites). Self-care deficit results when self-care agency is not adequate to meet he known self-care demand.

Nursing system theory postulates that nursing systems form when nurses prescribe, design, and provide nursing that regulates the individual’s self-care capabilities and meets therapeutic self-care requirements. Three types of nursing systems are identified:

1. Wholly compensatory systems are required for individuals unable to control and monitor their environment and process information.

2. Partially compensatory systems are designed for individuals who are unable to perform some (but not all) self-care activities.

3. Supportive-educative (developmental) systems are designed for persons who need to learn to perform self-care measures ans need assistance to do so.



Kozier, Barbara Fundamentals of Nursing 5th edition

Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc 1998 p.51