Major Concepts of The Theory


family.jpgAbdellah describes people as having physical, emotional, and sociological needs. 

These needs may overt, consisting of largely physical needs, or covert, such as emotional and social needs.

Patient is described as the only justification for the existence of nursing.

Individuals (and families) are the recipients of nursing.

Health, or achieving of it, is the purpose of nursing services.


In Patient-Centered Approaches to Nursing, Abdellah describes health as a state mutually exclusive of illness.

Although Abdellah does not give a definition of health, she speaks to “total health needs” and “a healthy state of mind and body” in her description of nursing as a comprehensive service.


Society is included in “planning for optimum health on local, state, national, and international levels”. However, as she further delineated her ideas, the focus of nursing service is clearly the individual.

The environment is the home or community from which patient comes.


man-wheelchair.jpgNursing is a helping profession. In Abdellah’s model, nursing care is doing something to or for the person or providing information to the person with the goals of meeting needs, increasing or restoring self-help ability, or alleviating impairment.

Nursing is broadly grouped into the 21 problem areas to guide care and promote use of nursing judgment.

She considers nursing to be comprehensive service that is based on art and science and aims to help people, sick or well, cope with their health needs.


nurse-stethoscope.jpgNursing problem presented by a client is a condition faced by the client or client’s family that the nurse through the performance of professional functions can assist them to meet . The problem can be either an overt or covert nursing problem.

An overt nursing problem is an apparent condition faced by the patient or family, which the nurse can assist him or them to meet through the performance of her professional functions.

The covert nursing problem is a concealed or hidden condition faced, by the patient or family, which the nurse can assist him or them to meet through the performance of her professional functions

In her attempt to bring nursing practice into its proper relationship with restorative and preventive measures for meeting total client needs, she seems to swing the pendulum to the opposite pole, from the disease orientation to nursing orientation, while leaving the client somewhere in the middle.


nurse-doctor.jpgThe problem solving process involves identifying the problem, selecting pertinent data, formulating hypothesis, testing hypothesis through the collection of data, and revising hypothesis where necessary on the basis of conclusions obtained from the data.


George Julia B. Nursing theories: The base of professional nursing practice 3rd edition. Norwalk, CN: Appleton and Lange; 1990.

Abdellah, F.G.). The Nature of Nursing Science. In L.H. Nicholl (Ed.), Perspectives in Nursing Theory. Boston: Little, Brown, 1986.

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