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Orem's Self Care Deficit Theory

Updated on November 24, 2017
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Vince is a technical writer working in the medical research field. He also enjoys exploring literature in his free time.

One of the ways in which Dorothea Orem’s Self-Care Deficit theory can improve nursing practice is by assuming a role for the patient in their care. The theory acknowledges the patient’s day to day activities as contributing to his or her health. Rather than doing all of the work and acting as an outsider fixing the patient’s problems, the nurse following Orem’s theory will utilize his patients as means for keeping themselves healthy. This could also empowering for the patient.

Continuing with the concept of patient empowerment, Orem’s theory of Self-Care Deficit has implications for use in mental health. Mental health practice has been moving away from the traditional medical model of curing a disease to one of recovery which involves patient participation (Seed & Torkelson, 2012). It is useful for patients in these settings to not only be able to recognize negative behaviors, but also positive ones that benefit them. By following Orem’s theory, patients in the care of psychiatric nurses can be taught ways to monitor their own behavior to aid in their recovery.

Orem’s theory is also useful for teaching nursing students how to understand nursing theory and how it affects them. Due to the fact that Orem’s theory is highly practical, using many examples to explain how it works, it is easy for students to connect the day to day needs of nurses to the more abstract theoretical concepts. One study mentioned in “Challenging RN-BSN Students To Apply Orem’s Theory To Practice” by Susan Davidson (2012) found that teaching Orem’s theory to nursing students had a beneficial impact on their education and understanding of nursing theory overall.


Davidson, S. (2012). Challenging RN-BSN students to apply Orem’s theory to practice. Self Care, Dependent Care & Nursing, 19(1), 15-19. Seed, M. S., Torkelson, D. J. (2012). Beginning the recovery journey in acute psychiatric care: Using concepts from Orem’s self-care deficit nursing theory. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33, 394-398.


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