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Jean Watson’s Theory of Care & Its Application in Nursing Practice

Academic Discipline: Nursing
Course Name: Nursing Theories
Assignment Subject: Nursing Theory: Jean Watson Theory & Its Application in Practice
Academic Level: Undergraduate
Referencing Style: APA
Word Count: 1,015

This paper examines Jean Watson’s theory of care and its application in the nursing practice environment. This topic will be examined in the following manner. First, by providing a definition of and discussion about Watson’s theory. Secondly, discussing the importance of a supportive care setting for patients. Third, by reviewing examples of Watson’s theory in the care setting. Finally, this paper will look at the implications for nursing education. The search terms used for this paper were as follows: ‘Jean Watson’; ‘CARITAS’; ‘theory of care patient setting’; and, ‘nursing practice Jean Watson’.

Definition: Watson’s Theory of Care
Jean Watson is a nursing theorist who formulated the theory of human caring and the ‘caritas’ processes in support of this theory. Watson’s background is in nursing and psychology. Through her practice, she observed the effect of authentic caring on patients and the resultant health outcomes. She has published many works on the “…philosophy and theory of human caring and the art and science of caring in nursing” (Watson Caring Science, 2017). Watson’s theories are taught in nursing schools around the world. Watson (2006) notes the absence or separation of caring from the care environment. “Caring and economics, and caring and administrative practices, are often considered in conflict with each other” (Watson, 2006, 48). In fact, Watson makes the point that the “…basic consid- erations of what it means to be human, to be vulnerable, to be ill, to be cured, to be cared for, to be healthy, and to be healed” (Watson, 2006, 48). While lengthly, the above quotations are worth rereading and being given due consideration because the traditional model of healthcare leans heavily on an economic/administrative model of caring, whereas Watson’s theory emphasizes the reason why nurses were attracted to the profession. That is, nurses are drawn to the human side of nursing and believe in the posiitve effect of human caring on health outcomes (Watson, 2006, 48). Stated plainly, Watson notes “Any profession that loses its values becomes heartless; any profession that becomes heartless becomes soulless. Any profession that becomes heartless and soulless, becomes [Worthless]” (Watson, 2006, 49).

Importance of Supportive Care for Positive Health Outcomes
Relationship management is integral to patient engagement and to engagement with a patient’s family. With the concerns about economics and the place that economics has in all areas of life, it is often difficult for healthcare providers to justify, from an economic standpoint, allowing staff to take the time to build caring relationships with patients. Qualis (2014) notes that “bio-psychosocial model” (Qualis, 2014, 1) is the next step in health interventions. This is supported by scientific evidence indicates that “social relationships affect a range of health outcomes” (Umberson & Montez, 2010, 11). Watson’s caring theory supports these principles through the core concepts of her theory. These core concepts are the following: relational caring of self and others; transpersonal caring relationships; having caring occasions or moments; recognition of multiple ways of knowing; a reflective/meditative approach to care; caring that is inclusive, circular, and expansive; the recognition that caring changes the self, others around the individual, as well as the culture of groups and their environment (Watson Caring Science, 2017, 1-2).

Application of Watson’s Theory in Care Settings
Watson’s theory is applied through what are called carative factors or caratas processes. There are ten carative factors and these are the following. Briefly, the application of the theory is demonstrated as the practice of loving-kindness, equanimity, authenticity, enabling, cultivating a spiritual practice; developing a relationship that is helping-trusting; enabling the expression of both positive and negative feelings; having a caring-healing practice; a willingness to learn for the caring experience; being able to engage in a teaching-learning experience that is genuine; enabling and creating environments that are healing; caring for basic needs, both spiritual and physical; and, being open to spirituality (Watson Caring Science, 2017, 2). In practice, this means that a nurse practitioner engages his/her own emotions in the caring relationship, not being closed to new spiritual and emotional experiences while looking after the physical and health needs of the patient.

Watson’s Theory & the Implications for Nursing Education
The workplace environment that nurses face can be frustrating and morally destroying as they face disrespect, anger, frustration and apathy from various areas in the healthcare workplace. To counter this experience, cultivating caring in nursing practice seems to be a pre-requisite for basic peace of mind for the nurse practitioner. This can be cultivated if the ability to cultivate caring is part of the curriculum in nursing education. Dyess, Boykin, & Rigg (2010), observe that when practice is guided by “values and beliefs” (Dyess, Boykin, & Rigg, 2010, 498), nurses use these values and beliefs as a lens to “view their practice … interact … and create an environment for nursing care to be delivered” (Dyess, Boykin, & Rigg, 2010, 498). In other words, nurses can determine the lens that will guide their practice. The researchers observed the impact of a dedicated education unit, in a Sotheast Florida enviornment, that was “…grounded in a theoretical frame- work of caring to both nursing practice and education” (Dyess, Boykin, & Rigg, 2010, 498). The results indicated that the project allowed for strengthening and reinforcing an understanding of living the theory of caring through practice. Another study found that nurses realized their essential value to the healthcare environment when caring theory was integrated into their daily practice (Ryan, n.d., 7).

To conclude, Jean Watson’s theory of caring champions the traditional practices of caring and empathy, and encourages a more emotional and open approach to the care of patients in a healthcare practice. Nurses are encouraged to engage authentically and spiritually with their patients and their patient’s families, in order to allow a more positive experience of the healthcare environment for all parties. Research indicates that when patients are engaged in this manner, both the nurses and the patients benefit in the shared experience. When the caring theory is integrated into the nursing curriculum, nursing students learn from early on in their practice to include the theory in their own practice, thereby allowing a more authentic experience of nursing for themselves and their patients.

Dyess, S., Boykin, A., & Rigg, C. (2010). Integrating Caring Theory With Nursing Practice and Education: Connecting With What Matters. Journal of Nursing Administration , 40 (11), Volume 40, Number 11.

Qualis, S. (2014, March 1-4). What Social Relationships Can Do for Health. Jouranl of the American Society on Aging .

Ryan, L. (n.d.). The Journey to Integrate Watson’s Caring Theory with Clinical Practice. Retrieved August 25, 2017, from Watson Caring Science:

Umberson, D., & Montez, J. (2010). Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy. Journal of Health Social Behaviour , 51, S54–S66.

Watson Caring Science. (2017). JEAN WATSON, PHD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, (LL -AAN). Retrieved August 25, 2017, from Watson Caring Science:

Watson, J. (2006). Caring Theory as an Ethical Guide to Administrative and Clinical Practices. Nursing Administration Quarterly , 30 (1), 48-55.