Betty Neuman: Systems Model

Betty Neuman: Systems Model

The nature of this theory made it be of preference to us since it provides for a framework that allows comprehensive care to the patient as it touches on both internal and external factors that are determinants to the patients’ health. Neuman was one of the founders of the nursing profession and nurses had used her theory globally to guide their nursing practice. Her systemic approach to the patients’ health concern ensures a patient is served holistically and this allows for improved quality of care (Alligood, 2014). The theory dwells significantly on the client viewing it as an open system which upon getting stressed, responds due to the lines of defenses that exist in the body. These lines of defense are flexible, but when the flexibility is outdone, resistance creeps in and this when the individual moves from wellness to illness.

Betty Neuman was born on September 11, 1924, in Lowel, Ohio (Smith & Parker, 2015). In 1942, she worked with the wartime aircraft industry within Ohio. She joined the Cadet Nursing Training Program in 1944 and got a diploma in 1947. In 1956, she took a baccalaureate program at the University of California where she majored in Public Health with a minor in Psychology. From 1964 to 1966, Neuman engaged in graduate work in UCLA’S program that entailed Mental and Public Health Consultations. She completed her master’s degree in 1966b and was appointed the chairperson of the UCLA program.

In 1970, Neuman came up with “A model for Teaching Total Person Approach to Patients Problems.” That viewed the patient’s system to be operating from the patients’ energy resources that are unique to each person. She got remarried in the early 1970s to Dr. Dicklich after becoming a single mother in 1963 and settled in Ohio. In 1973, she became a consultant in mental health in West Virginia State Department of Mental Health. From then, she started moving around various nursing schools advocating for the systems model. In 1985, she completed her Ph.D. in Clinical     Psychology at Pacific Western University. From then, she broadened the friendship within the nursing profession that embraces the Neuman’s system model, and this led to its wide application in the nursing practice.

Betty Neuman’s theory falls both under classical Human needs theory as well as interactive theory. According to McEwen & Wills (2014), Betty Neuman forms one of the three modern theorists whose theories have been categorized by paradigms or worldviews. This makes the Neuman’s systems theory relevant to the current practices in nursing hence applicable to the modern day nursing.

In paradigm, the central concepts are health, nursing, the person and the environment (Alligood, 2014). All these are considered in the Neuman’s systems model via its assumptions. In the model, each client’s system is regarded as unique and responds to various factors. It also takes into accounts that various stressors exist and these can impact the normal line of defense in the client. The inter-relationship among the health determinants of the patients can affect his or her potential of being protected via the flexible line of defense against the reactions to the stressors. The model also assumes that each person has a normal range of responses that fall under the normal line of defense. The stress breaks the normal line of defense when the flexible line of defense is not capable of curbing the stressors. It is these moments when the states of wellness and illness get in with the internal resistance factors stabilizing the patient’s state to wellness. In preventing these, primary prevention can be applied to determine and prevent the possible stressors, secondary prevention by determining the sign and symptoms following body response and treating them to curb their effects and tertiary prevention which entails averting the processes involved to move towards primary prevention.

The model’s major concepts encompass human being that is viewed to be an open system that is bombarded by various stressors in the surrounding. Besides, there exists the environment which affects and at the same time affected by the client’s system. There is also health that refers to the condition of stability between wellness and illness. The open system that forms the center of discussion gives room for interaction as it entails a flow of input, output as well as response. The basic structure and energy resources are the survival factors that individuals bare. The theory also entails the client variables that range from physiological, psychological, sociological, developmental as well as spiritual variables (Smith & Parker, 2015). All these determine the health of the individuals when affected by environment. In addition to the above issues, the theory also dwells on the line of defense which forms the level of adaptation to the stressors. The line of resistance, however, refers to the protective factors that come in when the stressors overpower the line of defense.

Neuman’s theory has been used in the assessment of patients to identify their needs. This has been successful in the determination of stressors that clients usually undergo. This is done via the history and [physical examination while putting the theory to use which in the end determines the influence of the health determinants of the patient. This has enabled the nurses to cater and employ various measures to keep off the stressors that the patient is likely to face.

Also, the model is useful in taking care of patients with chronic illnesses (Flaherty, 2013). For instance, patients with diabetes mellitus can have a complication such as diabetic neuropathy, diabetic foot leading to amputation or lead to hypertension or even comorbid obesity. Such patients are usually stressed by the condition which usually needs daily intervention. At the same time, both the patient and family have a strict schedule of diet modification which may inconvenience not only other family members but also be expensive for them to afford. All these lead to stress that can solely be related to the presence of diabetes mellitus. In these cases, the model has been applied by letting the patient join a support group for social and psychological support. At the same time, the patient undergoes occupational therapy with assistive devices for ambulation.  Locally available materials are also used to meet his needs to fit the required nutritional needs. In the long run, the various health concerns get covered to ensure the patient has comprehensive care services.

This systems model is applicable in trauma cases while helping the patients to get to their near normal lives (Flaherty, 2013). In such cases, the patient is likely to have had stressors crossing the normal line of defense. The counseling nurse can apply the theory to increase the energy resources of the patient that will give room for coping. This can be done via letting the patient talk about the incidence as well as keeping the patient off the traumatic event if possible.


Indeed, the Neuman’s theory has enhanced the holistic care of patients. With this in place, various needs have been taken care of to ensure the patient get back to normal. The client being considered as an open system has enabled the nursing profession to center their focus on the health determinants that usually determine the wellness of the patient.  At the same time, the theory has been applied in determining the wellness or the illness of the patient since the response by the client is of significance.




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