Margaret Newman’s Theory

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Margaret Newman is known for her theory of health as expanding consciousness by developing awareness of one’s self and the environment. Newman holds a bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degree and became a professor in charge of graduate studies in nursing at Penn State University in 1977. The next year, she began to convey her ideas in relation to nursing theory and in 1984 she started to work as a nurse theorist at the University of Minnesota (Newman, 1994, p. 16). In “Perspectives in Psychiatric Care,” Newman’s theory provides a framework for working on the mental health needs of nursing home residents. Staff nurses, aides, and students focused on “understanding the clients’ patterns of interaction with their environment” as most of the patterns observed were linked to losses expressed through disconnectedness (Weingourt, 1998, p. 28). Staff attempted to bring meaning back into the clients’ lives by visiting more, organizing activities to improve contact with other residents, and heightening their sense of imagination. Newman’s theory of health as expanding consciousness can also be applied to people’s experience with HIV/AIDS in Japan, a place where homosexuality is deemed taboo (Awa & Yamashita, 2008, p. 455). Life stories revealed a pattern of “self-conscious of own sexual orientation, chaos, stagnation, turning point, and regaining an entirely new identity” (Awa & Yamashita, 2008, p. 456).

Newman’s theoretical framework can be applied to my personal nursing practice. In a dire effort to understand a patients’ health condition, I must comprehend the significance of the patients’ way of relating to the environment as patients are continuously expanding their realm of consciousness. For instance, I will encounter patients that will eventually come to the realization that their way of doing things no longer works and must seek new answers as they seek a higher level of consciousness. As patients change their view that their family has no time for them and life will move on they will become more in-tune with their family.


Awa, M. M., & Yamashita, M. M. (2008). Persons' experience of HIV/AIDS in Japan: Application of Margaret Newman's theory. International Nursing Review, 55(4), 454-461. doi:10.1111/j.1466-7657.2008.00658.x

Newman, M.A. (1994). Health expanding consciousness (2nd ed.). New York: National League for Nursing.

Weingourt, R. (1998). Using Margaret A. Newman's theory of health with elderly nursing home residents. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 34(3), 25-30. Retrieved from http://search.