Martha E. Rogers' Theory of Unitary Human Beings views nursing as both a science and an art.
The uniqueness of nursing, like any other science, is in the phenomenon central to
its focus. The purpose of nurses is to promote health and well-being for all persons
wherever they are. The development of Rogers' abstract system was strongly influenced
by an early grounding in arts, as well as a background in science and interest in
space. The science of unitary human beings began as a synthesis of ideas and facts.
The nursing theory provides a way to view the unitary human being, who is integral
with the universe. The unitary human being and his or her environment are one. Nursing
focuses on people and the manifestations that emerge from the mutual human-environmental
field process. A change of pattern and organization of the human and environmental fields
is transmitted by waves. The manifestations of the field patterning that emerge are
observable events. By identifying the pattern, there can be a better understanding of
There are eight concepts in Rogers' nursing theory: energy field, openness, pattern,
pan-dimensionality, homeodynamic principles, resonance, helicy, and integrality.
The energy field is the fundamental unit of both the living and the non-living. It
provides a way to view people and the environment as irreducible wholes. The energy
fields continuously vary in intensity, density, and extent. There are no boundaries
that stop energy flow between the human and environmental fields, which is the openness
in Rogers' theory.
Rogers defines pattern as the distinguishing characteristic of an energy field seen as
a single wave. It is an abstraction, and gives identity to the field. Pan-dimensionality
is defined as "non-linear domain without spatial or temporal attributes." The parameters
that humans use in language to describe events are arbitrary, and the present is relative;
there is no temporal ordering of lives.
Homeodynamic principles postulate a way of viewing unitary human beings. The three
principles of homeodynamics are resonancy, helicy, and integrality. Resonancy is an
ordered arrangement of rhythm characterizing both the human and environmental fields
that undergo continuous dynamic metamorphosis in the human environmental process.
Helicy describes the unpredictable, nonlinear evolution of energy fields as seen in
non-repeating rhythmicities, and postulates an ordering of the human evolutionary
emergency. Integrality covers the mutual, continuous relationship of the human and
environmental fields. Changes occur by the continuous repatterning of the human and
environmental fields by resonance waves. The fields are integrated into each other,
but are also unique.
In Rogers' Theory of Unitary Human Beings, a person is defined as an indivisible,
pan-dimensional energy field identified by pattern, and manifesting characteristics
specific to the whole, and that can't be predicted from knowledge of the parts. A
person is also a unified whole, having its own distinct characteristics that can't
be viewed by looking at, describing, or summarizing the parts. Rogers also explains
that people have the capacity to participate in the process of change. The environment
is an "irreducible, pan-dimensional energy field identified by pattern and integral
with the human field." The two fields coexist and are integral to each other.
Rogers defines health as an expression of the life process. It is the characteristics
and behavior coming from the mutual, simultaneous interaction of the human and environmental
fields, and health and illness are part of the same continuum. The multiple events occurring
during the life process show the extent to which a person is achieving his or her maximum
health potential. The events vary in their expressions from greatest health to those conditions
that are incompatible with the maintaining life process.
The nursing theory states that nursing encompasses two dimensions: nursing as art and nursing
as science. From the science perspective, nursing is an organized body of knowledge specific
to nursing, and arrived at by scientific research and logical analysis. The art of nursing is
the creative use of science to better people, and the creative use of its knowledge is the
art of its practice. Rogers claims that nursing exists to serve people, and the safe
practice of nursing depends on the nature and amount of scientific nursing knowledge
the nurse brings to his or her practice.
The nursing process has three steps in Rogers' Theory of Unitary Human Beings: assessment,
voluntary mutual patterning, and evaluation.
The areas of assessment are: the total pattern of events at any given point in space-time,
simultaneous states of the patient and his or her environment, rhythms of the life process,
supplementary data, categorical disease entities, subsystem pathology, and pattern appraisal.
The assessment should be a comprehensive assessment of the human and environmental fields.
Mutual patterning of the human and environmental fields includes:
empowering the patient
repeat pattern appraisal, which includes nutrition, work/leisure activities, wake/sleep cycles, relationships, pain, and fear/hopes
identify dissonance and harmony
validate appraisal with the patient
self-reflection for the patient
To prepare nurses to practice Rogers' model, the focus of nursing curriculum
should be the transmission of the body of knowledge, teaching and practicing
therapeutic touch, and conducting regular in-service education. Emphasis should
be on developing self-awareness as a part of the patient's environmental energy
field, as well as the dynamic role of the nurse pattern manifestation on the patient.
There should also be an emphasis on laboratory study in a variety of settings, and
the importance of the use of media in education.