Nola J. Pender: Health Promotion Model


Currently, Nola Pender is “a Professor Emerita at the University of Michigan School of Nursing” (University of Michigan School of Nursing 1). Nola developed the Health Promotion Model (HPM) that has become popular among health care providers, educators, and researchers. She has taught nursing for over 40 years. Nola also has lifetime awards and honors in nursing. Besides, she has written several scholarly articles and books about nursing.

Nola proposed the model in 1982 and revised it in 1996 with aim of developing a complementary counterpart to models of health protection. The model goes beyond a mere absence of ill health to positive dynamics that promote good health. The model focuses on the well-being of the patient by looking at several aspects that an individual interacts within the environment. The focus is on the following aspects:

  • Experiences and characteristics of a person
  • Behavioral outcomes
  • Affect and behavior-specific cognitions

The concepts of the HPM include:

  • Environment
  • Person
  • Health
  • Nursing
  • Illness

The environment has influences on a person, but people also strive to create a favorable environment in which they can realize their potential fully. At the same time, people’s characteristics and experiences in life also shape their behaviors. The environmental factors include social, cultural, and physical aspects.

Individuals can manipulate environmental aspects to enhance positive outcomes in health-promoting behaviors. Nurses have a role in providing treatments, but they must also collaborate with the patient, families, and communities to establish the best condition for health promotion.

Critical aspects of the model

Nola aimed at influencing the behaviors that promote health through positive motivation. McEwen and Wills observe that the HPM has served as a framework for researchers in health-promoting studies (McEwen and Wills 6).

Assumption of the HPM

  • An individual strives to create the best living environment
  • An individual can perform a self-assessment and determine his or her strengths
  • People prefer positive outcomes and growth
  • An individual can control his or her behavior
  • People interact with the environment and exert influence on it
  • Nurses and other health care providers are part of the community that can influence positive health outcomes
  • People can transform their behaviors if necessary

The relevance of the model

Nurses have a chief role in promoting positive health and preventing illnesses. Health promotion is effective for enhancing the quality of life and well-being of individuals in different settings. The model seeks to promote a balanced approach to life. In other words, people need to ensure that they have balanced physical, social, and mental aspects of life. The model can target individuals, families, a given group, community, or patients within a health care setting (McEwen and Wills 8).

Nurses can instill positive behaviors among patients through education and promotion of healthy lifestyles and habits.

Nurses have engaged in curative, disease prevention, and promotion of good health and well-being. The focus has been to enhance the overall health of patients. This gives nurses the role of public health advocates, educators, and promoters of health habits and lifestyles among their clients. The model has been effective for applying evidence-based practices in a health care setting.

Application of the HPM to nursing practice

Pender asserts that the model aims to “assist nurses in understanding the major determinants of health behaviors as a basis for behavioral counseling to promote healthy lifestyles” (Nursing Theory 1). Nurses can exert influence and recommend best practices for their patients.

The model has been effective in promoting healthy living through physical activities among women cancer survivors. The National Cancer Institute noted, “Women who exercised moderately after diagnosis of breast cancer had improved survival rates compared to sedentary women” (National Cancer Institute 1).

The model has also been effective for promoting evidence-based practices in nursing courses.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Several researchers have used the Pender model as a framework for studying various aspects related to health. Some of the strengths include:

  • The HPM looks at several factors that can motivate people to engage in health-promoting behaviors
  • The model focuses on specific interventions for an individual patient based on behaviors, goals, and settings
  • The role of nurses goes beyond treatment to health promoters by strengthening “resources, potentials, and capabilities” for each patient and providing resources and education to promote improved health and a better quality of life
  • Some studies have shown that “tailoring interventions have been found to increase intervention effectiveness” (Prof and Velsor-Friederich 366)
  • Nurses and patients work as a team to promote positive health outcomes


  • This model cannot accurately serve a family or a community as a unit because it focuses on an individual
  • The HPM may not adequately address the health needs of adolescents because adolescent cannot make independent decisions like adults (Prof and Velsor-Friederich 366)
  • No sufficient data exist on health outcomes of adolescents

Works Cited

McEwen, Melanie and Evelyn Wills. Theoretical basis for nursing, 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011. Print.

National Cancer Institute. Physical activity and cancer. 2009. Web.

Nursing Theory. . 2011.Web.

Srof, Brenda and Barbara Velsor-Friederich. “Health promotion in adolescents: A review of Pender’s Health Promotion model.” Nursing Science Quarterly, 19.4 (2006): 366-373. Print.

University of Michigan School of Nursing. . 2012. Web.

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