The Neuman Systems Model Theory: Strengths and Limitations

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 3
Words: 563
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Master


Betty M. Neuman was an American researcher specialized in nursing, clinical psychology, and mental and public health. She was born in 1924 in Ohio, in a family of a farmer and a housewife. After graduation from high school, she completed a nursing program in the hospital of Ohio in Akron. Then Neuman decided to move to California to continue studying and become a highly-qualified nurse. Thus, in 1957, she graduated from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In 1966, she graduated from the same university with a Master’s degree in nursing. The whole life of Betty Neuman was dedicated to research in medicine.

For the period from 1967 until 1973, she was working as a faculty member of UCLA. During her work, she elaborated a special mental health program for graduate students. It was the first program of its type at this university. At the age of 62, she became a Doctor of Philosophy in clinical psychology. During her career, Dr. Neuman worked as a researcher, author, and health consultant. She received a number of Honorary Doctorates in 1992, 1993, and 1998 for her contribution development of medical services and academic research. Dr. Neuman became particularly well-known after the creation of the Neuman Systems Model (NSM) in 1970.

Initially, the NSM was a guideline for students aimed to assist those who just started studying nursing in choosing an appropriate specialization program. The theory of NSM was also concerned with the interaction of clients with environmental stressors and their response to these stressors (Gigliotti, 2003). Since 1980, when the NSM was modified, it is used not only by students but by caregivers and NSM practitioners as well.

Theory Strengths and Limitations

There are some strengths and weaknesses of the NSM theory. One of the advantages of the theory is that it can be used in all types of nursing, including those who work directly with clients, those who do administrative work, and those who work in educational area. Another strength of the theory is that it is very informative since there is a “great deal of knowledge concerning caregivers’ stressors and the impact of these stressors on client system stability” (Gigliotti, 2003, p. 204). Moreover, this theory can be applied to anyone without any exceptions, regardless of the number of clients, whether it is a group of people or just one person.

However, there are some limitations of the theory. First of all, it can be used only by medical workers, particularly nurses. It is difficult for those who do not work in the medical field to understand the process of stressors’ impact on clients’ health and how to deal with that to get positive results. Moreover, even those who work in medicine need some time to learn how to implement the theory in practice.

One more weakness of the NSM is revealed by a group of researchers of the Ceara State University in their work “Betty Neuman Systems Model: Analysis according to Meleis.” They criticize the theory because it does not give an explanation of stressful agents “since they are not clear and differentiated from what would be intra-personal, interpersonal and extra-personal” (Almeida et al., 2018, p.5). Therefore, even though the NSM theory is actively used and has some practical benefits, there are still some limitations and things to be improved and developed.


Almeida, N. G., Oliveira, M. R., Guedes, M. C., Silva, L. F., Freitas, M. C., Torres, R. M., & Fialho, A. V. (2018). Betty Neuman Systems Model: Analysis according to Meleis. SOJ Nur Health Care, 4(2), 1-5.

Gigliotti, E. (2003). The Neuman Systems Model institute: Testing middle-range theories. Nursing Science Quarterly, 16(3), 201-206.