Johnson's Behaviour System Model
September 9, 2013 in
B. S. N. from Vanderbilt University in
Nashville, Tennessee, in 1942; and her M.P.H. from Harvard
University in Boston in 1948.
From 1949 till retirement in 1978 she was
an assistant professor of pediatric nursing, an associate
professor of nursing, and a professor of nursing at the
University of California in Los Angeles.
Johnson stressed the importance of
research-based knowledge about the effect of nursing care on
Dorothy first proposed her model of nursing care in 1968 as
fostering of “the efficient and effective behavioral
functioning in the patient to prevent illness".
She also stated that nursing was “concerned with man as an
integrated whole and this is the specific knowledge of order
In 1980 Johnson published her conceptualization of
“behavioral system of model for nursing”where she explains
her definitions of the behavioral system model.
She defined nursing as “an external
regulatory force which acts to preserve the organization and
integration of the patients behaviors at an optimum level
under those conditions in which the behaviors constitutes a
threat to the physical or social health, or in which illness
Four goals of nursing are to assist the
Whose behavior commensurate with social demands.
Who is able to modify his behavior in ways that it supports
Who is able to benefit to the fullest extent during illness
from the physicians knowledge and skill.
Whose behavior does not give evidence of unnecessary
trauma as a consequence of illness
There are several layers of assumptions that Johnson makes in
the development of conceptualization of the behavioral system
Assumptions about system
There are 4 assumptions of system:
First, there is “organization, interaction,
interdependency and integration of the parts and elements
of behaviors that go to make up the system ”
A system “tends to achieve a balance
among the various forces operating within and upon it', and
that man strive continually to maintain a behavioral system
balance and steady state by more or less automatic
adjustments and adaptations to the natural forces impinging
A behavioral system, which both requires
and results in some degree of regularity and constancy in
behavior, is essential to man that is to say, it is
functionally significant in that it serves a useful purpose,
both in social life and for the individual.
Last, “system balance reflects adjustments
and adaptations that are successful in some way and to some
Assumptions about structure and
function of each subsystem
“from the form the behavior takes and the
consequences it achieves can be inferred what “drive” has
been stimulated or what “goal” is being sought”
Each individual has a “predisposition to
act with reference to the goal, in certain ways rather than
the other ways”. This predisposition is called as “set”.
Each subsystem has a repertoire of choices
or “scope of action”
The fourth assumption is that it produce
“observable outcome” that is the individual’s behavior.
Each subsystem has three functional requirements
System must be “protected" from noxious influences with
which system cannot cope”.
Each subsystem must be “nurtured” through the input of
appropriate supplies from the environment.
Each subsystem must be “stimulated” for use to enhance
growth and prevent stagnation.
Attachment or affiliative
subsystem: “social inclusion intimacy and the
formation and attachment of a strong social bond.”
“approval, attention or recognition and physical assistance”
Ingestive subsystem: “the
emphasis is on the meaning and structures of the social
events surrounding the occasion when the food is eaten”
Eliminative subsystem: “human
cultures have defined different socially acceptable
behaviors for excretion of waste ,but the existence of such
a pattern remains different from culture to Culture.”
Sexual subsystem:" both
biological and social factor affect the behavior in the
Aggressive subsystem: " it
relates to the behaviors concerned with protection and
self preservation Johnson views aggressive subsystem as one
that generates defensive response from the individual when
life or territory is being threatened”
Achievement subsystem: " provokes
behavior that attempt to control the environment
intellectual, physical, creative, mechanical and social
skills achievement are some of the areas that Johnson
Goal ----- Set --- Choice of
Behavior --- Behavior
- “Human being” as having two major systems, the biological
system and the behavioral system. It is role of the medicine
to focus on biological system where as Nursling's focus is the
- “Society” relates to the environment on which the individual
exists. According to Johnson an individual’s behavior is
influenced by the events in the environment
“Health” is a purposeful adaptive response,
physically mentally, emotionally, and socially to internal
and external stimuli in order to maintain stability and
“Nursing” has a primary goal that is to
foster equilibrium within the individual. Nursing is
concerned with the organized and integrated whole, but that
the major focus is on maintaining a balance in the Behavior
system when illness occurs in an individual.
Grubbs developed an assessment tool based on
Johnson’s seven subsystems plus a subsystem she labeled as
restorative which focused on activities of daily living. An
assessment based on behavioral model does not easily permit the
nurse to gather detailed information about the biological
Diagnosis tends to be general to the system
than specific to the problem. Grubb has proposed 4 categories of
nursing diagnosis derived from Johnson's behavioral system
Planning and implementation
Implementation of the nursing care related to
the diagnosis may be difficult because of lack of clients input
in to the plan. the plan will focus on nurses actions to modify
clients behavior, these plan than have a goal ,to bring about
homeostasis in a subsystem, based on nursing assessment of the
individuals drive, set behavior, repertoire, and observable
behavior. The plan may include protection, nurturance or
stimulation of the identified subsystem.
Evaluation is based on the attainment of a goal
of balance in the identified subsystems. If the baseline data
are available for an individual, the nurse may have goal for the
individual to return to the baseline behavior. If the
alterations in the behavior that are planned do occur, the nurse
should be able to observe the return to the previous behavior
patterns. Johnson's behavioral model with the nursing process is
a nurse centered activity, with the nurse determining the
clients needs and state behavior appropriate for that need.
Interrelate concepts to create a different way of viewing a
phenomenon - Concepts in Johnson's theory are interrelated.
Theories must be logical in nature- Johnson's theory is
logical in nature.
Theories must be simple yet generalizable - The theory is
Theories can be bases of hypothesis that can be tested -
Research studies are conducted applying Jonhson's theory.
Theories contribute to and assist in increasing the body of
knowledge within the discipline through the research
implemented to validate them.
Theories can be utilized by practitioners to guide and
improve their practice.
Theories must be consistent with other validated theories,
laws and principles but will leave unanswered questions that
need to be investigated.
Johnson does not clearly interrelate her concepts of
subsystems comprising the behavioral system model.
The definition of concept is so abstract that they are
difficult to use.
It is difficult to test Johnson's model by development of
The focus on the behavioral system makes it difficult for
nurses to work with physically impaired individual to use
The model is very individual oriented so the nurses working
with the group have difficulty in its implementation.
The model is very individual oriented so the family of the
client is only considered as an environment.
Johnson does not define the expected outcomes when one of
the system is affected by the nursing implementation an
implicit expectation is made that all human in all cultures
will attain same outcome –homeostasis.
Johnson’s behavioral system model is not flexible.
Johnson’s Behavioral system model is a model of
nursing care that advocates the fostering of efficient and
effective behavioral functioning in the patient to prevent
illness. The patient is defined as behavioral system composed of
7 behavioral subsystems. Each subsystem composed of four
structural characteristics i.e. drives, set, choices and
Three functional requirement of each subsystem
(3) stimulation for