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Dorothy JohnsonDorothy Johnson's Nursing Theory Home - Dorothy Johnson's Nursing TheoryCreated By: Valerie Andrews, Kimberly Cromwell, Stephanie Fries & Zahira Hodge

Dorothy Johnson was an early supporter of nursing as a science as well as an art. From the beginning, Johnson proposed that the knowledge of the science of nursing was composed from both basic and applied sciences. She felt that the science and art of nursing should focus on the clients, not on the disease process itself. Her early publications focused on a science of nursing (1959) and a conceptual basis for nursing care (1961) (Johnson and Webber, 2005).

Johnson proposed that nursing care facilitated the client’s maintenance of a state of equilibrium. Johnson felt that when faced with a “stressor” individuals responded in different ways. These “stressors” could be either internal or external, but caused a state of disequilibrium in individuals. It was the focus of her work, and the responsibility of nursing, to help the client return to a state of equilibrium through two steps. First, the “stressor” has to be reduced and removed if possible. Secondly, natural and adaptive processes had to be supported to maintain a state of equilibrium.

Johnson’s work focused on the person as well as nursing. She identified the person as a system with eight subsystems, four structural characteristics (assumptions), and three functional requirements. The eight subsystems are ingestive, eliminative, affiliative, dependency, sexual, aggressive-protective, achievement, and restorative. The four structural characteristics are drive, choices, act, and observable behaviors. The three functional requirements are protection, nurturance, and stimulation. “When one or more of the subsystems is in disequilibrium, the person reacts in a patterned, purposeful, repetitive ways” (Johnson and Webber, 2005). Johnson felt that by grouping these behaviors that it allowed them to be predicted and ordered. The goal of nursing is achieve an environment in which the subsystems are nurtured and returned to a state of stability, so that equilibrium is restored.



**Please click on the links located to the left to learn more about Dorothy Johnson's Behavioral System Model. Subheadings exist, so make sure you explore all areas completely.**


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