Betty Newman theory is also known as the Newman Systems Model. It is a nursing theory that focuses on an individual’s relationship and response to stressors and stress (Newman Fawcett, 2011). Derived from general system theory, Newman Systems Model assumes that client is an open system reacting to internal and external stressors in the environment. The proposed client system includes five variables, namely physiological, psychological, developmental, socio-cultural, as well as spiritual. Under “a client,” Newman means an individual, group, family, community, or even a social issue. The client system is represented by a core structure protected by certain lines of resistance. The regular level of health is viewed as the normal line of defense, protected by the one that is known as a flexible line of defense. When stressors of different nature (inter, intra, and extra-personal) break through the client’s flexible line of defense, they invade the system. This activates the lines of resistance and makes the system move into illness if to consider a wellness-illness continuum (Newman Systems Model, 2017).

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With regard to a nursing role, Newman Systems Model focuses on prevention through primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions (Newman Fawcett, 2011). This perspective derives from Caplan’s concept of prevention levels. Prevention as intervention is aimed at achieving the maximum possible level of stability for a client. In order to carry this out, Newman suggest that the nursing format be used in which the client, as care recipient, will actively participate with the nursing specialist, as a caregiver, in setting goals and selecting interventions.

The following concepts are central to understanding the model: stressors – any phenomena that can penetrate the lines of defense bringing either negative or positive outcomes; stability – a state of a client’s harmony or balance in coping with stressors, which allows the client to preserve an optimal health level; entropy – a process of depletion of energy which moves the system toward possible illness or death; negentropy – a process of conservation of energy which moves the system towards stability and a higher wellness degree; reconstitution – the return of the system’s stability that comes as a result of the treatment of stressor reaction (Newman Systems Model, 2017). Betty Newman theory has been applied to all nursing areas and has been the source of several middle-range theories.

  • Neuman, B., & Fawcett, J. (2011). The Neuman Systems Model. (5 ed., pp. 3-33). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Newman Systems Model (2017). Retrieved from