Patient-Centered Nursing

Contributor: Peggy Chinn
August 23, 2018

Author – Faye G Abdellah, RN, MA, EdD

Year First Published – 1960
Major Concepts

The nurse addresses the following 21 problem categories: (1) hygiene and physical comfort, (2) activity and rest, (3) safety, (4) body mechanics, (5) oxygenation, (6) nutrition, (7) elimination, (8) fluid and electrolytes, (9) responses to disease, (10) regulatory mechanisms, (11) sensory function, (12) feelings and reactions, (13) emotions and illness interrelationships, (14) communication, (15) interpersonal relationships, (16) spirituality, (17) therapeutic environment, (18) awareness of self, (19) limitation acceptance, (20) resources to resolve problems, and (21) role of social problems in illness.


Grand theory

Brief Description

The patient or family presents with nursing problems that the nurse helps them address through the professional function, addressing each of the 21 problems. Nursing problems are both overt or obvious and covert. Nurses must be aware of covert problems to meet care requirements. Overt and covert problems must be identified to make a nursing diagnosis. Identification of problems precedes solution. The nursing process is the method nurses use to establish and focus on a nursing diagnosis. The overall goal is a patient’s fullest possible functioning. Individualized patient care is important for nursing. Both patients and nurses should be aware of the wholeness of each person and the need for continuity of care from before hospitalization to afterward. Individualized care will require changes in the organization and administration of nursing services and education.

Primary Sources

Abdellah, F. G., et al (1960). Patient-centered approaches to nursing. New York: Macmillan.

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Faye G. Abdellah (1919-2017)

Dr. Abdellah was a nurse, educator, and deputy surgeon general of the Public Health Service. She served as the U.S Surgeon General’s alternate ex-officio member of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine from 1972-1989. As a member of the National Library of Medicine Board, she contributed to Board policies that shaped NLM programs and services and to the NLM Long-Range Plan for 1986-2006.

Dr. Abdellah helped guide nursing from a task oriented service focused on treating disease into a profession focusing on healing patients. She served in various capacities on the faculties of Yale University in New Haven Connecticut, the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Colorado in Boulder, the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, the University of South Carolina in Columbia and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Maryland.

In 1989, Dr. Abdellah joined the faculty at the USUHS immediately following her Public Health Service retirement to assist in establishing the Graduate School of Nursing.  The Uniformed Services University Graduate School of Nursing was established in 1993 and named in honor of the World War II Veteran, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and Hawaii Senator Daniel Ken Inouye.  Dr. Abdellah became its’ first and longest serving Dean. Under her leadership, she guided the fledgling school which began with only a single master’s degree into a fully accredited graduate institution offering four Masters Degrees of Science, three Doctor of Nursing Practice and one Doctor of Philosophy program.  She retired as Founding Dean in 2002.