Jean Watson’s Nursing Theory

In 1979, Dr. Jean Watson, a professor of nursing at Colorado University, developed the Theory of Human Caring, which has evolved over the years and remained robust in the field of healthcare by incorporating emerging aspects in the practice of nursing. Dr. Watson describes nursing as a science and art, which nurtures the body, mind, and soul of a patient to restore health and well-being. Nursing combines the science of persons and medical experiences to promote professional, scientific, and ethical concepts of human interaction in the healthcare environment. Watson’s Caring Model considers the patient as a holistic being that exists in three spheres, which the healthcare provider must heal considering that the valuable nature of a person requires that he or she receives appropriate care, respect, and assistance. The nurse is responsible for creating a healing environment in which the patient’s awareness and consciousness expand to engage the mind and spirit in the curing process (Barbara, 1995).

A healing space should exhibit soothing and sacred characteristics, which transform a small, dull, and threatening environment into a large, bright, and secure world. The characteristics of a healing environment should exist as a culture within the profession of nursing and embrace the scope of nursing in every society. Dr. Watson describes health as the wellbeing in the physical, mental and social functions of a person and an adaptive-maintenance concept that supports the daily functioning of an individual. According to the Caring Model, humanistic-altruistic values commence from the early stages of birth and develop through exposure to diverse life experiences and sharing with other humans. The maturation of altruistic behavior is a key element in nursing and determines the ability of a healthcare provider to project values such as empathy and warmth towards patients. Watson’s belief in the role of intangible aspects of human beings in the healing process encouraged her to develop a nursing theory that emphasizes the need for nurses to maintain synergy between the scientific and spiritual concepts of healthcare. Watson’s theory considers the process of curing diseases as a dynamic phenomenon that depends on the relationship between the nurse and patient. The effective response of a patient to treatment largely depends on the cultivation of positive feelings about the patient’s situation to promote hope and the commitment of the patient to the treatment process.

Dr. Watson’s Nursing Theory constitutes three core components, which include creative factors, a transpersonal caring relationship, and caring moments. Creative factors entail nurturing the patient spiritually, emotionally and providing various forms of human care within the scope of clinical care (Behice et al., 2003). On the other hand, a transpersonal caring relationship involves the engagement of both the nurse and patient in the healing process by relating to the patient’s condition and searching for restoration of health. Caring moments encompass various aspects of human-to-human interaction in which the patient spends uninterrupted moments with the nurse, family members, and friends. Incorporating the creative factors of the Human Caring Theory in my Caring Moment created a link with the patient and enabled him to adjust his world in accordance with the acts of kindness and love that he received. I realized the importance of promoting the patient’s faith and hope despite his health condition because effective completion of the treatment process required the sustenance of a cooperative relationship with the patient. Nurturing Faith and hope is crucial especially in situations whereby scientific medical interventions cannot cure a medical condition because the patient is likely to despair. In this understanding, I developed an approach that linked hope with the patient’s beliefs and created a sense of wellbeing and positive regard for the situation.

Establishing a personal relationship with the patient provides a nurse with deep insights on the patient’s condition, which is crucial in the assessment exercise because the nurse can develop an appropriate cognitive plan by analyzing the patient’s condition. Furthermore, by maintaining close contact with the patient, the nurse can respond appropriately to the basic human and spiritual needs of the patient. Dr. Watson describes the need for nurses to focus on gratifying patient’s needs because all human needs have equal importance to the treatment process and posses either a direct or an indirect connection to healthcare procedures (Ilkay et al., 2013). A healthcare provider should consider the biophysical needs, psychophysical needs and psychosocial needs of the patient and develop a responsive plan. I ensured the provision of the patient with appropriate foods, fluids and ventilation as the basic step in the Caring Moment, responded to the patient’s need for activity and sought to assist the patient achieve the needs relating to fulfillment and self-actualization. Establishing rapport with the patient by adopting effective modes of communication such as listening and other nonverbal cues allows the creation of a healthy helping-trust relationship. I acknowledged the importance of showing sensitivity to the patient’s feelings to cultivate an environment in which the patient felt encouraged to share his emotions about his condition. Feelings, whether positive or negative, have significant effects on the patient’s attitude towards the treatment exercise and influence the healthcare provider’s ability to restore wellness.

The nurse should have a clear understanding of the patient’s feelings and adopt approaches to safeguard the patient against emotions that might be detrimental to their recovery. Furthermore, showing sensitivity promotes genuine interaction between the nurse and patient and encourages self-actualization for both parties due to the feeling of a shared occurrence and vision. Dr. Watson describes a supportive and protective environment as constituting of internal and external variables, which the nurse must identify and manipulate in a way that advances the wellbeing of the patient’s mind, body and spirit. The interdependent of internal and external environments requires sustenance of balance so that the patient can have a comfortable, private and safe environment. Caring moments entail the display of unconditional acceptance through practices such as the nurse’s physical presence in the patient’s room, eye contact and personal contact such as a handshake.

Caring moments cultivate an environment in which the nurse understands the phenomenological forces affecting the patient’s life and can evaluate the patient’s condition from a different frame of reference (Jean, 2008). Phenomenological analysis allows the nurse to reconcile various aspect of human care and assist the patient in the most appropriate way to deal with his condition. The patient’s response to the Caring Moment was positive and led to an increased enthusiasm to participate in the treatment exercise as the patient developed a new perception of his condition and realized that restoration of health and wellbeing largely depended on the collaboration between the patient and healthcare provider. The patient’s religious beliefs concerning animal products were a major hurdle in the treatment process and led to his refusal to take some hospital meals. I could have enhanced the moment by encouraging his family members to visit often so that he could access the preferred diet on a regular basis.

Dr. Watson’s Nursing Theory places the patient within a context that incorporates aspects of a family, community and culture to transform the concept of care as the pillar of nursing. She emphasizes on the importance of a humanitarian orientation in the nursing practice rather than focusing on technology as the main tool of healing. Using Watson’s concepts, nurses can improve care for patients and themselves by looking at the human being from a holistic perspective. Watson made a great contribution in guiding the care for patients with acute and chronic health conditions considering that such patients require great care and attention to their mental and spiritual wellbeing. The tremendous technological advancements are likely to alter the holistic approach in nursing care with healthcare providers placing emphasis on the physical components of nursing. Dr. Watson advises that the advances in science and technology are not the sole determinants of health and wellbeing and must incorporate the concepts of supportive physical, mental and spiritual environments. Research on the application of Dr. Watson’s Nursing Theory indicates that hypertension patients under Watson’s Caring Model exhibited great improvement in the quality of their life and their blood pressure levels declined significantly once their treatment integrated the model (Lukose, 2011). The comprehensive nature of Watson’s Caring Model introduces useful concepts that healthcare providers should consider and adopt in various programs and transform nursing into a profession that helps people to recover from treatment and regain wholesome wellness.


Barbara, M. (1995). Watsonʼs theory of caring: A model for implementation in practice. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 9(4), 43-54.

Behice, E., Ayşe, S., Gülbu, T., Dilek, K., Olcay, S., & Zeynep, G. (2003). The effectiveness of Watson’s Caring Model on the quality of life and blood pressure of patients with hypertension. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 41(2), 130 – 139.

Ilkay, O., Hülya, O., Kadriye, B., & Jean, W. (2013). A case study based on Watson’s theory of human caring: being an infertile woman in Turkey. Nursing Science Quarterly, 26(4), 352.

Jean, W. (2008). Social justice and human caring: A model of caring science as a hopeful paradigm for moral justice for humanity. Creative Nursing, 14(2), 54-61.

Lukose, A. (2011). Developing a Practice Model for Watson’s Theory of Caring. Nursing Science Quarterly, 24(1), 27-30.

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