Compare and Contrast the Nursing Need Theory and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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We have Virginia Henderson theory that talks about the Nursing Needs, while we also have Maslow’s theory that talks about the Hierarchy of Needs. If you learn both theories, there are close similarities where both focus on the importance of human needs.

Since there are some close similarities between both, it’s important for you to know the comparison. No worries! We have taken a little research and found the similarities and differences between both. So, let’s see the comparison between Henderson’s theory and Maslow’s theory through our post below!

Comparison Between Henderson’s Theory and Maslow’s Theory

In Henderson’s theory, there are four major concepts including:

  1. Individual
  2. Environment
  3. Health
  4. Nursing

Henderson identifies three major assumptions in her model of nursing: (1) ‘Nurses care for a patient until a patient can care for him or herself’ (even though it is explicitly stated), (2) Nurse will be willing to serve the patient day and night, (3) nurses must be educated at the college level in both arts and sciences.

In Maslow’s theory, there are 5 tiers of human needs including:

  1. Physiological Needs
  2. Safety Needs
  3. Belongingness and Love Needs
  4. Self-esteem Needs
  5. Self-actualization Needs

Maslow assumes that every individual should meet their needs from the lower-level needs or at least meet sufficiently before they meet the higher-level needs. In other words, physiological needs should be met before safety needs. After safety needs are fulfilled, an individual can meet the belongingness and love needs. Then, self-esteem needs and self-actualization are the last two that an individual should meet.

In Henderson’s Theory, there are 14 components related to nurse’s needs, here they are:

  1. Breathe normally
  2. Eat and drink adequately
  3. Eliminate body wastes
  4. Move and maintain desirable postures
  5. Sleep and rest
  6. Select suitable clothes-dress and undress
  7. Maintain body temperature within normal range by adjusting clothing and modifying environment
  8. Keep the body clean and well-groomed and protect the integument
  9. Avoid dangers in the environment and avoid injuring others
  10. Communicate with others in expressing emotions, needs, fears, or opinions.
  11. Worship according to one’s faith
  12. Work in such a way that there is a sense of accomplishment
  13. Play or participate in various forms of recreation
  14. Learn, discover, or satisfy the curiosity that leads to normal development and health and use the available health facilities

In Maslow’s theory, there are a bunch of elements included into 5 tiers of human needs, here they are:

  1. Physiological Needs: breathing, food, water, sleep, sex, excretion, homeostasis
  2. Safety Needs: security of body, of family, of resources, or morality, of employment, of health, of property
  3. Belongingness and Love Needs: friendship, family, sexual intimacy
  4. Esteem: self-esteem, achievement, confidence, respect of others, respect by others
  5. Self-Actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts

Here’s the comparison between Henderson’s theory and Maslow’s theory in a table form:

Maslow’s theory of needs Henderson’s theory of nursing
Physiological needs 1.     Breathe normally

2.     Eat and drink adequately

3.     Eliminate by all avenues of elimination

4.     Move and maintain desirable posture

5.     Sleep and rest

6.     Select suitable clothing

7.     Maintain body temperature

8.     Keep body clean and well-groomed and protect the integument

Safety Needs 9.     Avoid environmental dangers and avoid injuring other
Belongingness and love needs 10.  Communicate with others

11.  Worship according to one’s faith

Esteem needs 12.  Work at something providing a sense of accomplishment

13.  Play or participate in various forms of recreation

14.  Learn, discover, or satisfy curiosity

We also show you the comparison between Maslow’s theory of needs and basic human needs, here you go!

Maslow’s theory of needs Basic Human Needs
Physiological: food, water, shelter, oxygen, sleep




Safety: Security, order, stability, physical safety

Physical Needs:


Water, food, oxygen, clothing and shelter for body warmth and protection, elimination, activity or sensory and motor stimulation including rest, sex and physical exercise.


Love and Belonging: identification, affection, companionship




Esteem and Recognition: Self-esteem, prestige, self-respect, success, esteem of others

Emotional Needs:

Love includes approval and esteem.

Importance including recognition and respect

Adequacy includes self-sufficiency and the need to be needed and wanted

Productivity includes work an creative pursuits

Self-actualization: Self-fulfillment, achieving one’s capabilities


Aesthetic: harmony, beauty, spiritual

Social Needs:

Identification or belonging, religion or spirituality, education or learning and reaction or play.

The point is, both theories complement each other with the same goal of meeting the needs of human being (patient)

How Do Henderson’s Theory and Maslow’s Theory Work Together?

As we’ve mentioned, both theories talk about the importance of human needs. Sure, there are some close similarities between both theories where Henderson’s 14 elements can be applied to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

According to a theoretical foundations of nursing article, ‘The prioritization of the 14 elements was not explained clearly whether the first one is prerequisite to the other. But still, it is remarkable that Henderson can specify and characterize some of the needs of individuals based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Gonzalo, 2011)

Well, this comparison is where Maslow’s theory comes into play supporting Henderson’s theory, because the fact that Maslow’s theory of needs has been prioritized.

Who Is Virginia Henderson?

Born on November 30, 1897 in Kansas City, Missouri, Virginia Henderson is famous for a definition of nursing. That’s why Henderson is known as the first lady of nursing.

Henderson had a nursing Diploma in 1921 from the army nursing school at Walter Reed hospital in Washington, DC. She also received a Bachelor’s in nursing degree in 1952. She then gained a Master’s Degree in 1934. She died in 1996.

Who Is Abraham Maslow?

Born on April 21, 1908, Abraham Maslow is well known as a theorist who gave much inspiration to personality theory. He is also a psychologist who became a pioneer of the flow of humanistic psychology.

Maslow graduated from Psychology at the University of Wisconsin with his bachelor’s degree in 1930, master’s degree in 1931 and doctorate’s degree in 1934. He died in California in 1970 because of a heart attack.

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