Nursing theory should, in general, have a significant impact on clinical practice. Patient care situations can usually be viewed within the context of some theoretical framework. Dorothea Orem's general theory of nursing provides one such framework. The theory essentially defines the need for nursing care. This need occurs whenever a person experiences some limitation or deficit which interferes with their ability to maintain self-care. Further, the theory delineates the various interactions which should occur between a nurse and a patient. Orem's theory can be used, for example, to describe the home nursing care appropriate for a young female patient with a fractured hip. Furthermore, Orem's theory is particularly useful because it can also incorporate other theories. The overall conceptual framework that is then created may address practically every aspect of patient care.
According to Taylor (1988), "nursing practice is inextricably linked to nursing theory: what nurses do is dependent on their nursing knowledge and on how they think about nursing" (Taylor, 1988, pp. 111-119). Theory, therefore, provides a structure and direction for nursing action.
Dorothea Orem's general theory of nursing describes nursing as a complex form of deliberate interpersonal action that ultimately provides a helping human health service. Orem's theory can be subdivided into three component hypotheses. These include the following: (1) t