A bibliography of Nola Pender: A Nursing Theorist


Nola Pender was born in 1941 and she is a professor in nurse by profession (Pender, 2010). She is known for starting the Health Promotion Model through her theory in nursing care. Her nursing career started in 1959 when she joined West Suburban Hospital, School of Nursing, Oak Park, IL and earned Registered Nurse (RN) certification in 1962 (Pender, 2010). She joined Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan in the same year where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in 1964 and was immediately enrolled for Masters Degree of Nursing in Human Growth and Development, which was awarded in 1965 (Pender, 2010).

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She did her Ph. D in Psychology and Education (double major) between 1967 and 1969 (Pender, 2010). Since then to date, Pender has worked as professor and in other administrative positions for various Universities. She is famous for her scholarly expertise and interest in physical activity, adolescent health behaviors, health promotion, and health behavior counseling, which led her to develop the Health Promotion Model. She has also developed various scholarly publications (Pender, 2010).

Theory Development

Pender drafted her health promotion model (HPM) after identifying a crisis in the development of acute and chronic health problems where professionals intervened only after patient have developed complications. She believed that the quality of life could be enhanced through early intervention, which may prevent the development of the complications and consequently save healthcare costs and other socio-economic losses. She proposed the promotion of healthy lifestyles and positive motivation as the key early intervention plans. The theory describes humans as biophysical entity that has been shaped by the environment and also creates the environment that allows them to fully express themselves thus humanity and environment have reciprocal relationship (Peterson & Bredow, 2008). The environment is viewed as socio-cultural and physical entity that has been modified by humans (Peterson & Bredow, 2008). In context to health care, Pender’s theory describe the role of nurses is to collaborate among patients, families, and communities with the aim of establishing the best conditions that allows optimal expression of health or well-being. In order to achieve this, she explained that nurses should use their human potential (human-environment reciprocal relationship) to adjust and maintain relevant healthcare environment.


The concept of this theory is that Health promotion is a primary factor and objective in modern nursing. The model describes that Health promoting behaviors create the sense of well-being in patients and thus protects them from developing medical complications and chronic illnesses (Leddy, 2006). The HPM model is based on various assumptions that include the following. Firstly, people can create living conditions that can enable them express their rare potentials (Peterson & Bredow, 2008). Secondly, every human has capability of developing reflective sell awareness and assessing personal competencies. Thirdly, everyone values positive growth and development and will work hard to balance his/her position when changes occur, which entails interacting with and transforming their environment (Peterson & Bredow, 2008). This makes humans to constantly regulate their personal behaviors over time. Fourthly, Health professionals especially the nurse constitute the expertise interpersonal environment that influence humans throughout their entire life. Lastly, change of behaviors depends on self-initiated reconfiguration that in most cases is influenced by interpersonal interactive trends/patterns and their environment (Meyers, 2009).

Clinical Application

The purpose of HPM in healthcare is to assist nurses and social health workers to understand the major contributors of health behaviors that should be used as basis for promoting healthy lifestyles through behavioral counseling (Peterson & Bredow, 2008). The model can be used as ideal foundation for structuring and restructuring the interventions and protocols used in nursing. In this sense, it acts as rational-choice tool of health care. Various nursing and clinical scholars to study the impact of the proposed variables in promoting health behaviors have used the theory. This model has used inter-disciplinary approach in which the roles of nursing are described in psychological perspectives and also develop the psychological aspects of nursing (Sitzman & Eichelberger, 2010).



Leddy, S. (2006). Integrative Health Promotion: Conceptual Bases for Nursing Practice. Burlington, MS: Jones & Bartlett Learning

Meyers, E.A. (2009). Capturing the Advanced Practice Nursing Voice for Implementation of Preventive Services. Azusa, CA: Azusa Pacific University.

Pender, N.J. (2010). Nola J. Pender. University of Michigan School of Nursing. Retrieved from http://www.nursing.umich.edu/faculty-staff/nola-j-pender

Peterson, S. & Bredow, T. (2008). Middle-Range Theories: Application to Nursing Research. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Sitzman, K. & Eichelberger, L.W. (2010). Understanding the Work of Nurse Theorists: A Creative Beginning. Burlington, MS: Jones & Bartlett Publishers

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