Dorothea Orem: Self Care Deficit Nursing Theory

self care deficit nursing theoryDorothea Orem’s Self Care Deficit nursing theory is defined as goal-oriented activities that are set towards generating interest in the part of the client to maintain life and health development. They main purpose of the theory is to make the client perform self-care activities in order to live independently.


Self Care Deficit:  Metaparadigms in Nursing


In Orem’s nursing theory a person is defined as the recipient of care who has the potential for learning and development. A person can engage in deliberate actions, interpret experiences, and perform beneficial actions.

According to Orem’s Self Care theory  human beings are distinguished from other living beings in terms of their capacity to:

  • Reflect upon themselves and their environment
  • Symbolize what they experience
  • Use symbolic creations (ideas, words) in thinking, communicating, and guiding efforts to make things that are beneficial for themselves and/or for others.



It is the client’s surroundings which may affect their ability to perform their self-care activities. This can positively or negatively affect a person’s ability to provide self-care.



Orem supports the World Health organization’s definition of health which is the “state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease of infirmity.” Orem supports the premises of holistic health in  which both nurse and patient promote the individual’s responsibility of self care. Oftentimes Dorothea Orem presents health based on prevention and health maintenance.



According to Orem, Nursing is helping clients to establish or identify ways to perform self-care activities. Nursing actions are aimed towards the independence of the client. If the client is highly dependent, there is a need for the nurse to assist and address the needs of the client.

Moreover, Orem defines nursing as a human service. She also stated that Nursing is based on values.


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