Environmental Theory: Evolution and Application

This research paper will focus on Florence Nightingale, the environmental theory author. Nightingale revolutionized public consciousness about the role of the nurse. I would call her one of the most important faces in nursing history because of her invaluable contributions to health care. She was able to change society and put a rightful seed in mind. I want to trace the journey of Florence Nightingale and the development of the concept of the environment.


What constitutes nursing and why it is so important to people is a question I first pondered after philosophical conversations with my father. On my sixteenth birthday, an epiphany came over me because I had read so many books about what it is to be human. I decided to serve in the hospital, even though my parents were against it. Of course, they prevented me from going into the service, but I was able to immerse myself in studying medical books (Matthews et al., 2020). I discovered that there was so much data to be learned in practice, and I began to participate in trips to villages where I helped to nurse the sick.

At the same time, I discovered that my grandmother’s and nanny’s illnesses could be incurable. I surrounded them with comfort and care but realized this was not enough. From that moment on, I thought about creating a principled nursing approach that would save the lives of sick people and improve the health of healthy people (Riegel et al., 2021). I was serving people, but the environment was unstable and constantly interfering with their condition (Matthews et al., 2020). I immersed myself in the study of the nursing organization during my travels. As a result, the role the environment played in our health was discovered.

I went to the front in 1853; by that time, I knew I wanted to present my nursing theory. I tried to spread my ideas in my team, and the support I received gave me the strength to create. At that time, it became vital for me to guide other nurses and introduce my knowledge to them (Iram, 2018). My tools were statistics and its social direction – I taught people how to care for people (Matthews et al., 2020). Teaching was focused on explaining the relationship between the individual and the environment and the need for care and communication. As a result, I came up with a large body of knowledge that needed to be synthesized into a coherent theoretical concept.


Having accumulated a body of knowledge, I realized that I had to organize it, catalog it, and create a conceptual system. I started from the definition of care and its role in the overall treatment: caregivers and nurses must anticipate the patient’s wishes, and only then will he be cured. Care is the totality of the external actions that the caregiver performs to make the patient feel healthy and want to be healthy (Riegel et al., 2021). After formulating this statement, I began to apply it and saw results: nurses began to ventilate rooms, remove noise, and communicate with patients much more often. I realized I was moving in the right direction and began to uncover the branches of nursing.

I called my theory environmental and included five elements: water, air, hygiene, cleanliness, and light. These tools of care allow the patient to heal and separate their essence from their illness. I have introduced the position that the patient is much more than the disease: it cannot limit him, and it is the nurse’s job to let him feel it (VUSN Communications, 2020). The environment is the foundation of nursing, and in my Notes on Nursing, I planted that seed (Iram, 2018). I pointed to love and respect for the patient, for without these elements, care would be reduced to silly questions about whether the person liked tea and how much sleep they got. Without the love of care, it is impossible to compose qualified, intelligent nursing care.

Another conceptual difference in my theory has been to struggle with and redefine illness. Satisfying the patient’s needs is what nurses want to achieve: A cure will not come from simple medication; you have to help the patient overcome the loneliness of the hospital bed. While I defined the environment as the main element at the beginning of my theory, I gradually came to a new assertion. The nurse is a guide for the patient who carefully directs and intelligently balances external influences. Transforming the environment into one conducive to recovery is the nurse’s task.

Validation of the Theory

The environmental theory assumes that all care is based on creating a comfortable environment for the patient and gradually improving the environment that promotes healing. Its use in clinical settings is now becoming relevant and necessary for the development of a reliable system of care. Without it, nurses will not be able to help patients because they will not see how to achieve their care goals and where to direct their care. Florence Nightingale’s theory and its application can be proven through some studies, but we should focus on the more relevant ones.

The issue of the coronavirus pandemic is still acute despite efforts to overcome the disease. Galehdar et al. (2020) discusses what tools are used to care for patients with coronavirus. The authors found that nurses often use Florence Nightingale’s theory when caring for a person. Study participants said they loved it and remembered Nightingale when the workload became very heavy. They reported a love of care and nursing that guided them and improved patient comfort. The authors pointed out that many of the participants interviewed were concerned about their working conditions but still thought about how the patients felt first (Galehdar et al., 2020). Despite the seriousness of the illness, participants understood that they had a duty to serve. They saw their work demonstrating that a patient’s life was valuable despite the coronavirus (Galehdar et al., 2020). The nurses became guides and were willing to serve without expectation. Consequently, the environmental theory they applied became an effective tool for overcoming the difficulties of the job and improving their care.

Florence Nightingale’s theory has been studied not only practically but through the analytical tools of medical researchers. Matthews et al. (2020) synthesizes the findings of several authors who have identified key elements of Nightingale’s theory. Thus, nurses’ components of patient care to meet quality care were identified. These included implementing and monitoring evidence-based medicine: for example, water is not only an element of the environment but a vector of disease – only clean water will help the patient (Matthews et al., 2020). The social determinants of health are a direct result of environmental theory, which is justified by the connections between the environment and health indicators (WHO, 2021). For example, communicating with the patient is always the focus because it boosts morale and sets one up for healing. Statistical scientific evidence has become part of Nightingale’s theory-their use allows for health care reforms and significant changes in attitudes toward health (Matthews et al., 2020). Consequently, research on Nightingale’s theory once again confirms that it has practical applications and effectiveness in various health care areas.


Florence Nightingale’s theory is an effective tool because it addresses the critical elements of helping. It is worth considering which practices the idea has seen the most significant application and has already shown benefits:

  1. While participating as a medic in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale was the first to notice that sanitary conditions directly impacted patients’ well-being. In the context of a pandemic, the individualized means of protection and the maintenance of cleanliness reduce illness (VUSN Communications, 2020). Airing, cleaning hands and face, and maintaining sterility are the consequences of Nightingale’s theory.
  2. Nightingale repeatedly addressed nutrition and its regimen, pointing out the need for proper food storage and transfer to the patient. It can now be found in the care of patients with respiratory diseases: nurses choose foods that the patient likes and offer them in a specific regimen (Iram, 2018). As a result, patients can consume more food and tolerate the course of the disease much easier because of the intake of food energy.
  3. Environmental theory has repeatedly been the impetus for reform because it has created an innovative approach to care. Now, clinical nursing specialists are promoting interprofessional collaboration, coalition building, and rational persuasion (Matthews et al., 2020). Nurses are moving from individual care to organizational care, reaching more people.

Consequently, the environmental nursing theory is a powerful tool for influencing the health care system as a whole and the individual characteristics of nurses. Research and positive effects in critical settings have proven the approach’s efficacy.


Galehdar, N., Toulabi, T., Kamran, A., & Heydari, H. (2020). Exploring nurses’ perception of taking care of patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19): A qualitative study. Nursing Open, 8(1), 171-179. Web.

Iram, M. (2018). Ensuring holistic care: Application and evaluation of Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory on tuberculosis patient. Global Journal of Medical Research: F Diseases, 18(3). Web.

Matthews, J. H., Whitehead, P. B., Ward, C., Kyner, M., & Crowder, T. (2020). Florence Nightingale: Visionary for the role of clinical nurse specialist. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 25(2). Web.

Riegel, F., Crossetti, M., Martini, J. G., & Nes, A. (2021). Florence Nightingale’s theory and her contributions to holistic critical thinking in nursing. Revista brasileira de enfermagem, 74(2). Web.

VUSN Communications. (2020). Lessons from Florence Nightingale are primary tools in COVID-19 nursing. Nursing Vanderbilt. Web.

WHO. (2021). Health equity and its determinants. Web.

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PapersGeeks. "Environmental Theory: Evolution and Application." October 6, 2023. https://papersgeeks.com/environmental-theory-evolution-and-application/.


PapersGeeks. 2023. "Environmental Theory: Evolution and Application." October 6, 2023. https://papersgeeks.com/environmental-theory-evolution-and-application/.


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