A Comparison of Peplau's Theory and Orem's Theory

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Nursing is a field that is guided by empirical evidence, relevant philosophies, and concepts. Orem and Peplau are examples of health practitioners who crafted concepts to help nurses give the best care possible to patients. Their models focus on improving relationship among nurses and patients while ensuring that the quality of health is not compromised. This exposition examines the two theories though the lens of patients and nurses and offers an illustration of situations where the concepts are applicable.

Peplau's Theory

Peplau's theory perceives nursing as an interpersonal process of curative interactions involving a sick person and an educated health provider who identifies and responds to the person's needs. Her theory posits that nursing ought to entail an organized and professional relationship between clients and nurses with focus on the client's ideas, needs, emotions, and issues (George, 2011). It entails two or more people interacting to reach a common objective that progresses though a series of steps sequentially.

The first phase, orientation, entails defining the problem after the nurse has met the client as a stranger. The underlying problem is thereafter defined and necessary services explained to the patient based on their needs (Senn, 2013).

The subsequent phase, identification commences once the patient feels they can work with the nurse and develop a sense of positivity in their interaction. In the exploitation stage, the client fully uses the available services and start feeling as integral to the entire process. Here, services are given based on the patient's needs and desires with the nursing assisting the patient in exploiting all help avenues. Progress is made to the next phase once the patient and nurse feel the necessary actions have been undertaken (George, 2011).

In the final phase, resolution, the patient and nurse's relationship ends once the patient's needs have been met. Aspects of Peplau's theory are applicable in the emergency department (ED). The procedure employed by triage nurse in the ED is analogous to the theory's orientation phase (Senn, 2013). During the first meeting, the patient and nurse meet as strangers and the quality and type of their interaction hinders of facilitates further communication. As such, the nurse needs to be calm, understanding, and non-judgmental to help identify patients' problems in the ED.

Orem's Theory

Conversely, Orem's theory defines nursing as an act of helping others in the management and provision of self-care to improve or maintain human functioning at normal levels of efficiency. According to the theory, self-care denotes activities that people carry out on their own to maintain their health, wellbeing, and lives (Younas, 2017). Besides, the theory holds that for a person to remain alive, they need to regularly connect and communicate with themselves and their environment. Orem's model consists of three interconnected part; nursing systems, self-care deficit, and self-care that work together to guide nursing practice. In view of Orem, the three-part concept does not focus on people but individuals in relationships. Each part concentrates on a single facet of the person; self-care focuses on I, self-care deficit on you and me, and nursing system on we (Younas, 2017).

While simple, Orem's theory is applicable in primary care and rehabilitation as well as situations where patients are needed to be independent of others (George, 2011). Overall, the model reiterates that such settings help patients recover fast and holistically.

Nursing practice is guided by theories, paradigms, and frameworks. The adoption of theories in nursing typifies an evolutionary pathway focused on ensuring nurses understand phenomena vital to their field. While the two theories discussed in this essay might seem simplistic and old, they remain relevant in the nursing profession. Successful application of their core concepts might have beneficial impacts on nurses leading to better outcomes for patients and themselves.


George, J. B. (2011). Nursing Theories: The Base for Professional Nursing Practice, 6/e. Pearson Education India.

Senn, J. F. (2013). Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relations: Application in emergency and rural nursing. Nursing science quarterly, 26(1), 31-35.

Younas, A. (2017). A Foundational Analysis of Dorothea Orem's Self-Care Theory and Evaluation of Its Significance for Nursing Practice and Research. Creative nursing, 23(1), 13-23.

October 24, 2023

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