Nightingale’s Environmental Theory Essay Example
Nightingale’s Environmental Theory Essay Example

Nightingale’s Environmental Theory Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (1086 words)
  • Published: March 27, 2022
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Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory describes the act of manipulating the patient’s environment to facilitate his or her recovery. Environmental factors are critical in assisting the recovery of a patient and restoration of optimal health. Since the external factors can be manipulated to enhance the restoration of health in patients, the nurses have the responsibility to tune the surroundings such that the configurations support recovery (Bonnie, 2016). According to the theory, external factors such as light, proper drainage, adequate food, clean water, and clean air are critical in facilitating the recovery of patients. The modern medical practices still consider Nightingale’s environmental theory practical in health restoration based on the patient’s need.

The environmental theory identifies three types of environments that include social, psychological, and physical. The social environment of the patient’s hospital room, home, as well as the entire community, psycholo


gical environment refers to the environmental aspects that affect the patient’s mental well-being while physical environment refers to the tangible objects in the patient’s surrounding. Patients play key roles regarding their wellbeing. The attainment of optimal health is due to the interaction between the patient, his or her environment and the nurse (Basavanthappa, 2007). The theory assumes that the patient interacting with the environment is the nurse’s concern. Nightingale asserts that adequate use of a quiet, clean, and warm environment, fresh air, and adequate light present substantial, vital power.

Application of Nightingale’s Environmental Theory

Nightingale’s environmental theory indicates that the environment, nursing, and an individual’s health are connected. Similarly, a disease is a natural process of eliminating impurities that have entered the body and prevents the fulfillment of some of its natural requirements. According to Nightingale, the presence of

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a disease in the body is an indication of a need, with respect to the natural laws, and an environmental alteration may facilitate the satisfaction of such needs (Afaf, 2012). Therefore, nurses are required to employ their observation skills when providing health care to patients. Observation and documentation of the patients’ response to environmental factors enable the health providers to identify and create an environment conducive to recovery. The configuration of the environmental factors to facilitate the recovery of a patient is a process that involves assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation (Kathleen, 2015).

Assessment and Planning

Nursing requires the health caregivers to assess the patient’s situation through observation and questioning to identify their needs. Observation involves the nurse’s ability to determine the environmental effects on the patients. Observation may entail recognition of noise, odors or the quantity of food and fluid ingested by the client. Questioning, on the other hand, involves the nurse making inquiries regarding the preferences of the patient. For instance, such question may relate to the patient’s fluid and food intake and specific preferences (Kathleen, 2015).


The environmental theory model involves the configuration of the patient’s external factors to maximize chances of recovery. Various environmental factors that affect the patient’s recovery may include ventilation, cleanliness, noise levels, food, and light intensity, hence the subject of manipulation.


Once the configuration of the environmental factors has been effected, the nurses need to monitor the impact of such changes to the patient’s recovery process. Observation and documentation of the effects is an important method of obtaining the required data for evaluating the results (Kathleen, 2015).

The objective of nursing is to create the best conditions that enable the nature to

take its course in facilitating recovery. Nightingale identified various environmental concepts that have direct correlations with the patients’ health including:

  1. Food- Patients may need various types of food at any time. Therefore, rather than large servings at specific times of the day, frequent serving of small proportions is important.
  2. Personal hygiene- Personal cleanliness is crucial as it keeps the patients’ body free from harmful bacteria and unblocks the pores on the skin to allow excretion.
  3. House health- Houses and hospital rooms must be constructed such that they allow free flow of fresh air and prevent the illness from flowing.
  4. Noise- Noise should be limited to avoid waking the patients during the first part of sleep.
  5. Light- Second to the need for fresh air is the light. Nightingale believed that sunlight is crucial in aiding the recovery of the sick.
  6. Warming and Ventilation- Ventilation is necessary and should be encouraged in hospitals since repeated breathing of one's own air affects recovery process.
  7. Bedding- People breath moisture through both the skin and lungs that seeps through the bedding fabric hence should be replaced.
  8. Emotional engagement- Negative comments and false cheers are harmful to the patients' recovery hence the nurses must heed to the conversation shared with the patients.
  9. Variety- The nurses should prevent monotony by introducing new items such as color changes to better the mood around the hospital room.

The nurses can determine conducive environmental configuration based on the assessment of the patients. The assessment assists the nurses to identify the external parameters to be manipulated to enable natural healing process. A healthy environment has the power to prevent infections and promote the attainment of optimal health

state in a patient (Bonnie, 2016). Nightingale emphasizes the importance of creating a “healthy room” for the patient by including sunlight and fresh air. To facilitate the circulation of fresh air, the hospital rooms are required to have proper ventilation systems and adequate light. She believed that a health-conducive environment is important in facilitating the self-healing process in patients. A health-conducive environment can be created by encouraging interpersonal milieu, punctuality, cleanliness, and sufficient food. The nurses have the duty to configure the surrounding to enable natural forces to act on them (Patricia et. al., 2016).


Nightingale’s environmental theory emphasizes the importance of the external factors in facilitating the patients’ recovery process. The surrounding has different effects in different patients depending on their present situations. Therefore, the nurses are expected to manipulate the environmental factors according to the patient’s unique situation to ensure that the alteration presents conducive conditions for nature to take its course in the healing process.


  1. Afaf Ibrahim Meleis (2012). Theoretical Nursing: Development and Progress (5th ed.). New York: Wolters Kluwer.
  2. Basavanthappa B. T. (2007). Nursing Theories. New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd.
  3. Bonnie Raingruber (2016). Contemporary Health Promotion In Nursing Practice. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  4. Kathleen Masters (2015). Nursing Theories: a Framework for Professional Practice. Burlington: Jones & Bartlet Learning.
  5. Patricia A. Potter, Anne Griffin Perry, Patricia Stockert, Amy Hall (2016). Fundamentals of Nursing (9th ed.). Aston: Elsevier.
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