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Nola Pender

Dr. Nola Pender is a nursing theorist who began working on her theory, the Health Promotion Model, in 1972. It was presented in her book, Health Promotion in Nursing Practice, in 1982 and has been revised twice since then. Her model emphasizes preventative health measures and outlines the important roles that nurses play in helping patients prevent illness by self-care and wise choices.

Nola Pender was born on August 16, 1941, in Lansing, Michigan. In 1964, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, and in 1965, received her master's degree from the same university. She went on to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to earn a PhD in 1969.

During a very illustrious career at Michigan State University for over 40 years, she taught students at undergraduate and graduate levels and mentored many postdoctoral fellows. She also had an active interest in research and conducted many studies of her Health Promotion Model with adolescents and adults. She and her research team developed the program, Girls on the Move, that studies and measures the results of intervention as it applies to using the model to help young people implement active lifestyles.

Nursing Association Affiliations

During her long career, Dr. Pender was and still is very supportive of nursing organizations. She contributed her time, service and knowledge. Since 1962, she has been a member of the American Nurses Association. As a co-founder of the Midwest Nursing Research Society, she was its president from 1985 to 1987 and has served as trustee of its foundation since 2009. In addition to being president of the American Academy of Nursing from 1991 to 1993, she was also a member of Research America's Board of Directors from 1991 to 1993 and a member of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force from 1998 to 2002.

Honors and Awards

Dr. Pender has been the recipient of many honors and awards that include the 1972 Distinguished Alumni Award from Michigan State University School of Nursing, Midwest Nursing Research Society's Distinguished Contributions to Research Award in 1988 and an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1992. The American Psychological Association gave her the Distinguished Contributions to Nursing and Psychology Award in 1997, and she was awarded the Mae Edna Doyle Teacher of the Year Award from the University of Michigan School of Nursing in 1998. In 2005, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Midwest Nursing Research Society.

Dr. Pender is now Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University. Since her retirement as an active professor, she is in demand as a consultant for health research both nationally and internationally and shares her knowledge to advance the field of nursing. She also serves as Distinguished Professor of Nursing at Loyola University School of Nursing in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to the six editions of her book, Dr. Pender has written many articles for texts and journals.

Health Promotion Nursing Theory

Dr. Pender's theory differs from most other nursing theories in that it focuses on positive nursing interventions rather than on providing care after illness has occurred. Promoting optimal health is considered more important than preventing disease. According to the theory, nurses have a primary role in teaching patients to make healthy choices and care for themselves. If patients participate in their own care and make wise choices, they will have better health and be able to prevent many illnesses and diseases.

Pender believed that a person's self-definition of health had more importance than a generalized designation of health. Health seeking behaviors can be influenced by cognitive-perceptual factors such as the importance of personal health to the individual, perceived advantages of healthy living and possible disadvantages of health promoting behavior. These factors can be further modified by other considerations including interpersonal influences, cultural factors and biological and demographic characteristics. Nurses play a very important role in directing patients toward the goal of optimal health.

Dr. Pender's Health Promotion Model is used worldwide in nursing practice, education and research. Using this nursing theory and the body of knowledge that has been gathered through observation and research, nurses are in the prime position to empower people to improve their well-being with self-care and positive health behaviors.

Publications related to Nola Pender

  • Health Promotion in Nursing Practice (6th Edition)
  • Pender, Nola J. Study Guide for Health Promotion in Nursing Practice
  • Philosophies and Theories for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Robbins, L.B., Gretebeck, K.A., Kazanis, A.S. and Pender, Nola.J. Girls on the Move Program to Increase Physical Activity Participation, Nursing Research, 2006
  • Pender, Nola.J., Bar-Or, O., Wilk, B. and Mitchell, S. Self-Efficacy and Perceived Exertion of Girls During Exercise, Nursing Research, 2002
  • Eden, K.B., Orleans, C.T., Mulrow, C.D., Pender, Nola.J. and Teutsch, S.M. Does Counseling by Clinicians Improve Physical Activity? A Summary of the Evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2002
  • Robbins, L.B., Pender, Nola.J., Conn, V.S., Frenn, M.D., Neuberger, G.B., Nies, M.A., Topp, R.V. and Wilbur, J.E. Physical Activity Research in Nursing, Nursing School Journal, 2001

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