Comparison of Nola Pender and Virginia Henderson’s Theories

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 8
Words: 2218
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: Master


The healthcare system has improved significantly due to the implementation and application of nursing theories. The nursing concepts have aided doctors in their service provision, making them comprehend and interrelate the vital dimension within the nursing sector, which enhances patient-centered services. For instance, Virginia Henderson and Nola Pender focus on describing the assumptions and concepts which act as a center of priority for the current nurses. The two theories have contributed to the development of nurses’ critical thinking knowledge through the comprehension of their ideas, hence improving their expertise based on their various specializations in the medical sector (Barbour & Schuessler, 2019). Besides, the two hypotheses have made various professional nurses obtain tangible outputs in providing healthcare services by following the directives and strategies portrayed by the notions. In light of the above, the analysis will seek to provide a comparison between Virginia Henderson’s principle and practice of nursing and Nola Pender’s health promotion model in the medical context.

Overview of the Selected Nursing Theories

Virginia Henderson’s Theory focuses on the need theory. The need theory provides the idea that assesses patients and how they can likely experience quick recovery while sustaining their health after leaving the hospital. According to Virginia Henderson, providing care for the patient is vital within our contemporary society, and nurses are the major players in patients’ recovery within the healthcare system (McEwen & Wills, 2018). The theory entails four significant concepts: environment, individual, health, and nursing process, which is similar to Pender’s theory. Subsequently, the definition of the theory is linked to how nurses provide unique roles that aid patients in performing health-related activities until they achieve their well-being and sustain themselves independently by engaging in the health practices offered by the medical professions. Henderson’s theory motivates the nurses within our current context by allowing them to act independently and creatively, thus enhancing quality healthcare outcomes.

Compared to Henderson’s Theory, Pender Nola’s theory also plays a fundamental role in health promotion. Pender developed a health promotion model popularly abbreviated as HPM, specifically when patients experience chronic or acute health issues. Her theory focuses on patients’ quality of life and how it can be improved by mitigating health disparities before they occur in society. Health Promotion Model (HPM) focuses on the positive motivation of people and nurses to overcome and prevent health problems within the community (McEwen & Wills, 2018). Specifically, the developed models assist nurses in understanding the significant determinants of health behaviors, allowing them to use the knowledge in counseling patients’ behaviors that promote healthy lifestyles. It also encourages scholars to identify variables that impact individuals’ health behavior through research findings on public health and nursing psychology into a model of health behavior. Though the two theories may slightly differ, they portray a similar agenda of enhancing quality healthcare services within our contemporary society.

Background of the Theories

Nola Pender developed an idea based on the Health Promotion Model (HPM) that aimed at controlling and managing the existing theories of health development and protection in the community. Nola provided an appropriate health definition as a positive dynamic state rather than its typical meaning or absence of disease. In simple words, Pender’s concept aims to take patients’ well-being to the next level and mitigate health disparity (McEwen & Wills, 2018). Similarly, the health promotion concept developed by Nola Pender illustrated the multi-dimensional perspective of humans as they correlate with each other in improving and maintaining the level of health in the community.

Henderson’s nursing definition is slightly different from that of Nalo Pender, but they all focus on the provision of quality healthcare in society. Henderson’s theory was printed in the Principles and Practices of a Nursing book. According to Henderson’s theory, each nurse has a different role in assisting every person within the community, either well or sick, by performing appropriate activities and practices that may contribute to the improvement of health outcomes, thus reducing health disparities (McEwen & Wills, 2018). In other words, the theory is typically motivating medical practitioners to devote themselves to patients and assist them in learning in caring about themselves to mitigate the risk of the increase in health disparities in the community.

Philosophical Underpinnings of the Theories

The philosophical underpinning of both theories is clear and consistent. Specifically, Pender’s HPM entails a logical structure applied to diverse age groups from different cultural perspectives experiencing varying health concerns (McEwen & Wills, 2018). Similarly, Henderson’s Theory was also clear and concise because it provided adequate knowledge about various phenomena while offering exact strategies to improve the currency, accuracy, and relevance of the knowledge regarding healthcare intervention to overcome health disparity. In other words, both theories entail a discipline with rich sources of potential knowledge that may be used by medical professionals in serving patients appropriately and efficiently.

Major Assumptions, Concepts, and Relationships of the Theories

Numerous related models have been observed to be applied to the two concepts in developing nursing practices in society. Both Nalo Pender and Henderson’s theories use major notions in portraying analysis in the nursing context while creating similar relationships. The significant perceptions that correlate with the two ideas include person, environment, health, and nursing. Both theories suggest that a person is a primary focus in the health industry (McEwen & Wills, 2018). However, every individual has different personal experiences and characteristics that affect subsequent actions. In other cases, a person in this context plays a vital role as an active participant in health promotion.

Nonetheless, the concept of the environment plays a crucial role in the health promotion model, which is similar to Henderson’s theory. According to their analysis, the environment entails interpersonal economic, and physical circumstances in which a person stays (McEwen & Wills, 2018). As a result, the quality of the environment will depend on the absence of toxic substances and the accessibility of economic and human resources required for a healthy lifestyle to overcome health disparities. Health and nursing perceptions are also a part of Pender’s models and Henderson’s theories which are typically viewed as a positive high-level state; hence they are both correlated in providing health promotion and preventing diseases in society.

The two theories have also developed various assumptions that are correlated with each other in maintaining appropriate health outcomes in the community. The action for the two principles is that nurses should care for the patient until they gain their well-being and care for themselves once again. The two concepts of the health promotion model by Pender and the principle and practice of nursing by Virginia reflect on the behavioral science perspective of healthcare by allowing every person to create a conducive condition surrounding them, which may allow them to express their uniquely human capabilities and avoid health discrepancies (McEwen & Wills, 2018). Another assumption that the two ideas share is that individual self-initiated reconfiguration regarding the personal environment is essential for behavioral change. Finally, both models suggest that a person’s mind and body cannot be separated since they are interrelated and require effective health education to correlate effectively and overcome the diseases within the surrounding ecological system.

The Usefulness of the Nursing Theories

Both Nola Pender’s health promotion model and Virginia Henderson’s nursing theory are currently used within clinical and medical institutions hence increasing effectiveness in health promotion to patients. According to Pender, her concept specifically focused on assisting nurses in understanding the major factors of health behavior that may enhance a healthy lifestyle despite the background of the patients in the community (McEwen & Wills, 2018). Subsequently, both theories provide effective clinical assessment for health promotion while giving out appropriate questions to be asked when nurses are dealing with patients regarding behavior, situational influences, commitment, social support, and personal inspiration hence mitigating health problems (Gligor & Domnariu, 2020). It is also applied and used in the clinic and social context in providing appropriate nursing diagnosis skills, practical application of healthcare research, and appropriate interventions that may assist the patient in achieving their well-being.

The two models also aim at developing a behavioral modification of individuals within society. This will be beneficial in the clinical context in improving the health of the patient by providing adequate knowledge on how to maintain healthcare outcomes in the community. The two ideas are also useful because they have a similar goal and objective that empowers potential nurses who motivate patients, members of the community, individuals, and family members to acquire an adequate healthcare lifestyle that may reduce health disparity drastically (Miranda et al., 2018). Notably, the two concepts in the nursing industry are also beneficial because they empower the discipline of a nurse, making them utilize relevant knowledge and skills into practice, thus achieving a tangible goal of administering quality healthcare services to the people. Therefore, the principles may result in effective clinical operations while improving the critical thinking skills and decision-making expertise of the nurses, thus expanding their knowledge significantly in various work settings.

Comparison of the Use of Both Theories in the Nursing Practice

The two models in theories have similar comparisons that will be analyzed in this context. Explicitly, Nola and the health promotion model theory have been used within the healthcare system across the globe (McEwen & Wills, 2018). The idea has been useful in teaching every person and nurse as a whole, specifically concerning health problems and well-being, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle which may result in the mitigation of health disparity. The theory has been designed to assist nurses in understanding the current behaviors of people and how they can offer effective awareness and education on the concept of health.

The model has been categorized as a middle-range theory that portrays an explanation of the outcomes of specific problems that may be affecting an individual’s health. This implies that a middle-range concept typically provides testable and clear results while giving structure that significantly explains the situation, event, and behavioral perspective of the people within a specific region (McEwen & Wills, 2018). Concerning the nursing practice, the notion has become relevant by creating an effective understanding of the nurses on the major purpose of health behaviors as a primary foundation for behavioral assistance, thus promoting a healthy lifestyle and well-being of the people in the community.

From a different angle, Virginia Henderson’s nursing model has been applied effectively in nursing practices to fully assist medical practitioners in their operations when dealing with various patients from different backgrounds. Since the above analysis depicts how the concept has been focusing on the importance of increasing the patient’s independence and improving their progress during hospitalization, it is applied in nursing practice by professional nurses to conduct quality healthcare services to the patient (McEwen & Wills, 2018). Virginia Henderson’s needs notion suggests that nursing professionals have reliable skills to administer quality and complex healthcare services to a patient that lacks knowledge on healthcare development and still administer and prescribe relevant medical treatment that contributes to the wellbeing of the patient despite the social challenges. Therefore, the ability of a doctor to administer complex and creative medical skills makes the theory relevant in improving nursing practices in the present context.

Examples of how Both Theories Could be Applied in a Clinical Setting

The health promotion model developed by Nalo Pender can be used in healthcare settings, specifically as a healthcare policy. For example, a healthcare policy practitioner may confront the growing cost of healthcare in a specific region related to chronic illness and diseases. As a result, the doctor should understand the correlation between financing, policy, and access to quality health care to promote healthy outcomes for the patients. Therefore, the theory may be useful in this case in improving their skills and knowledge, making them manage the issue within the region efficiently (McEwen & Wills, 2018). Similarly, the Virginia Henderson concept can be used by individuals within the community to improve the healthcare outcome by highlighting and developing appropriate health initiatives to improve health-related quality of life and well-being through adopting positive health behaviors within a region.

The Parsimony of the Theories

Virginia Henderson’s Concept is parsimony because it has a higher testability rate in terms of its hypothesis, which is related to how individuals can acquire basic health needs from the nurses, thus mitigating behavioral health problems in the community. Relatively, Pender’s health promotion model theory is parsimony because it supports the predictive ability and logical development through the application of nursing knowledge, thus assisting patients in the community.


In summary, the study has focused on the comparison between Virginia Henderson’s principle and practice of nursing and Nola Pender’s health promotion model in the medical context. Both Virginia and Nola had a great impact on influencing nurses, theory, authors, and researchers in the healthcare environment from previous decades to the current context. Nola Pender developed a theory based on the health promotion model that aimed at controlling and managing the existing theories of health development and protection in the community. On the other hand, Henderson’s theory suggests that every nurse has a different role in assisting every person within the community, both well or sick, by performing appropriate activities and practices that may contribute to the improvement of health outcomes. Despite their differences in definition, both theories proclaim similar information concerning health development through medical treatment and how nurses can develop their skills.


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Gligor, L., & Domnariu, C. D. (2020). Patient care approach using nursing theories – comparative analysis of Orem’s self-care deficit theory and Henderson’s model. Acta Medica Transilvanica, 25(2), 11–14. Web.

McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2018). Theoretical Basis for Nursing. Wolters Kluwer. Web.

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