Faye Glenn Abdellah Nursing Theory: 21 Nursing Problems

Faye Glenn Abdellah Biography

faye glenn abdellah 21 nursing problemsFaye Glenn Abdellah is a pioneer nursing researcher who formulated the Typology of 21 Nursing Problems. Faye Glenn Abdellah was born on March 13, 1919 in New York City. She finished her basic nursing education, magna cum laude in 1942 from Fitkin Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Neptune, New Jersey and obtained her Bachelor of Science in 1945, her Masters of Arts in 1947 and her Doctor of Education in1955 from the Teachers College at Columbia University. She is a former Chief Nurse Officer for the U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Servces, Washington D.C. Faye Glenn Abdellah is the first nurse and first woman to work as Deputy Surgeon of the United States. She has been a leader in nursing research and has over one hundred publications related to nursing care, education, for advanced practice in nursing and nursing research.

Because of Faye Glenn Abdellah’s contributions in transforming nursing theory, nursing care and nursing education she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000. She is also a beneficiary of both national and international awards.

Faye Glenn Abdellah: Metaparadigm in Nursing


Faye Glenn Abdellah classifies the beneficiary of care as individuals. However, she does not set standard limits on the nature and essence of human beings. The twenty-one nursing problems relate with biological, psychological and social aspects of individuals and can be said to correspond to concepts of importance.


In this theory, the concept of health is defined as the center and purpose of nursing services. Although Faye Glen Abdellah does not give a definition of health, she speaks to a “total health needs” and a “healthy state of mind and body” in her description of nursing as a comprehensive service.

According to Faye Glenn Abdellah health or achieving it is the purpose of nursing services.


The idea of environment is addressed by Faye Glenn Abdellah and is included in “planning for optimum health on local state, national, and international levels”. However, Abdellah elaborates her ideas, the apex (core) of nursing services is the individual.


The concept of nursing in this theory is generally grouped into twenty one problem areas for nurses to work out their judgment and appropriate care. Abdellah considers nursing to be an all-inclusive service that is based on the disciplines of art and science that serves individuals, sick or well, cope with their health needs.

Faye Glenn Abdellah: 21 Nursing Problems

Faye Glenn Abdellah’s theory proposes that nursing is the utilization of the problem-solving techniques with chief nursing problems related to the health requirements of clients. It gives much importance to problem solving medium for the nursing problems as the client is geared in the direction of health which is the outcome.

21 Nursing Problems

• To maintain good hygiene and physical comfort

• To promote optimal activity: exercise, rest and sleep

• To promote safety through the prevention of accidents, injury, or other trauma and through the prevention of the spread of infection.

• To maintain good body mechanics and prevent and correct deformity.

• To facilitate the maintenance of nutrition of all body cells.

• To facilitate the maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance.

• To recognize the physiological responses of the body to disease conditions.

• To facilitate the maintenance of sensory function

• To identify and accept positive and negative expressions, feelings, and reactions.

• To identify and accept the interrelatedness of emotions and organic illness.

• To facilitate the maintenance of effective verbal and non verbal communication

• To promote the development of productive interpersonal relationships

• To facilitate progress toward achievement of personal spiritual goals.

• To create and/or maintain a therapeutic environment

• To facilitate awareness of self as an individual with varying physical, emotional, and developmental needs.

• To accept the optimum possible goals in the light of limitations, physical and emotional.

• To use community resources as an aid in resolving problems arising from illness.

• To understand the role of social problems as influencing factors in the case of illness.

Faye Glenn Abdellah’s 21 Nursing Problems are actually a model describing the “arenas” pr concerns of nursing, rather than a theory describing relationships among phenomena. In this way, the theory distinguished the practice of nursing, with a focus on the 21 nursing problems , from practice of medicine, with a focus on disease and cure.

Faye Glenn Abdellah’s Typology of 21 Nursing Problems in one of the forerunners of the Nursing Diagnoses as compiled by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association.

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