Grand Theorist




Grand Theorist Report

Grand Canyon University: NUR 502

April 24, 2018

Grand Theorist Report

There are many grand nursing theories that have helped to set the foundation for the nursing profession. Faye Abdellah was one of the first pioneers for shaping nursing as a profession using her framework for Patient-Centered Approaches to Nursing. Abdellah’s theory is easy to apply to nursing practice in a healthcare institution because her framework is readable and clear (McEwen & Wills, 2014). In addition, another rationale for implementing her theory into practice at a healthcare institution is the fact that it clearly addresses the four metaparadigms—person, environment, health, and nursing. In this paper, we will discuss the theorist Faye Abdellah, her theory on Patient-Centered Approaches to Nursing, and how this theory can be integrated into practice at a healthcare institution.

Description of Theorist

Faye Abdellah was born in New York City on March 13, 1919. Abdellah decided at a very young age she wanted to pursue a career in nursing. She received her original certification in nursing from Fitkin Memorial Hospital. She continued her study of nursing at Columbia University getting her BA in Nursing along with her doctorate degree, which focused on psychology and education (Dewey, 2016).

Abdellah was highly influential in the profession of nursing. She was the Chief Nursing Officer and Deputy United States Surgeon General until 1993, and she was ranked as a Rear Admiral. She retired in 2000 from her last position as Dean of the Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniform Services University of Health Sciences (McEwen & Wills, 2014). As a whole, throughout her career Abdellah received many academic honors for her achievements in nursing. Her main focus was to reshape nursing as a profession by encouraging nurses to look past a physical illness or diagnosis and see “patients as people with a complex of emotional and psychological needs” (Dewey, 2016, n.p.). Clearly, this concept of looking at patients as more complex beings significantly helped to influence and shape her Patient-Centered Approaches to Nursing.

Category of Theory

Abdellah’s Patient Centered Approaches to Nursing is considered a grand nursing theory that is based on human needs. She believed that patients should be seen as ‘people’ who have individual unique needs that require personalized care from nurses. Furthermore, Abdellah developed her theory based on how she practiced while providing care to patients—which is what helps to make the theory highly applicable. McEwen & Wills (2014) further explain that Abdellah’s theory is applicable not only in the hospital setting, but also in the community setting.

Assumptions Underlying the Theory

Abdellah’s original theory did not have any stated assumptions; however, as time passed she did add the following six assumptions related to: 1) change and anticipated changes that impact the nursing profession, 2) the importance of how social enterprises and social problems are related, 3) how poverty, racism, pollution, education, etc. impact health and health care delivery, 4) changes in nursing education, 5) continuing education for nurses, and 6) development of nursing leaders (McEwen & Wills, 2014).

In addition, it is important to clearly define the metaparadigm concepts/assumptions underlying the theory as well. Abdellah’s Patient-Centered Approaches to Nursing is all encompassing, and the metaparadigms addressed in the theory are related to person, environment, health, and nursing.


Person is defined as the patient needing care. McEwen & Wills (2014) explain that Abdellah’s theory views the patient as the “individual who needs nursing care and who is dependent on the health care provider” (p. 141). When using Patient-Centered Approaches to Nursing, it is important to know that Abdellah emphasized the significance of individualized care and knowing the person’s needs.


When using Abdellah’s theory, it is important to know that the environment from the patient’s standpoint is interconnected to include not only the physical environment, but also external factors that impact the patient such as social problems, poverty, racism, etc. These are all factors within the environment that affect the health of patients and how they approach health care delivery (McEwen & Wills, 2014).


Health can be viewed as a better state of being. The purpose of Abdellah’s theory is to identify problems that are negatively impacting patients and eliminating these problems. Later we will discuss Abdellah’s 21 Nursing Problems and nursing’s responsibility to identify these problems.


Nursing is considered “a service to individuals and families to society, which helps people cope with their health needs” (McEwen & Wills, 2014, p. 141). Nursing is expected to identify nursing problems and work collaboratively with the healthcare team to ensure that patients get desired outcomes.

Major Concepts of the Theory

The major concepts related to Abdellah’s theory involve using ten steps to identify and develop treatment to nursing problems related to patients. Abdellah explains that there are 21 basic nursing problems related to patients, and it is important for nurses to know these identified nursing problems so they can use them while trying to identify what needs to be the plan of care. Below is an abbreviated version of Abdellah’s 21 Nursing Problems.

Abdellah’s 21 Nursing Problems

Maintenance of Hygiene and Comfort

Recognition of physiological responses to conditions

Maintenance of Nutrition for Body Cells

Promotion of activity, exercise, rest, etc.

Maintenance of normal body functions

Achievement of spiritual goals

Promotion of Safety

Appropriate sensory function

Maintenance of Therapeutic Environment

Maintenance of Proper Body Mechanics

Identification and acceptance of positive and negative expressed and reacting appropriately

Awareness of physical, e