Dorothea Orem's Self-Care Deficit Theory

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Dorothea Orem's self-care deficit theory Biography Dorothea Orem's self-care deficit theory was born while Dorothea Orem (1917-2007) was working in the Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW) as a curriculum consultant. At this time in the history of the profession, nursing was just emerging as a unique academic discipline. Orem's theory was designed to answer the fundamental question: What is nursing? Orem defined nursing as a way of realizing every patient's desire to engage in self-care in a manner to "sustain life and health, recover from disease or injury and cope" with the consequences of major health events and daily life (El-Kader n.d.). Major assumptions of the theory include that "people should be self-reliant and responsible for their own care and others in their family needing care" (Dorothea Orem's self-care deficit theory, 2012, Current Nursing). Fundamentally, nursing and the nursing process is designed to enhance self-care and to address deficits in self-care. Orem is credited with being one of the first major nursing theorists to link theory to practice in an explicit fashion. "The notion of being able to 'think' nursing to be able to move from an abstract general perspective representative of nursing in all situations as a basis for analyzing nursing cases in order to 'do' nursing in a variety of particular situations seemed essential if nursing was ever to move ahead as a separate scientific discipline of knowledge" (Allison 2008:49).
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