Pragmatic View of Watsons Theory

Topics: Nursing, Nursing theory, Health Pages: 29 (7087 words) Published: September 28, 2006

Provide an overview of Dr. Jean Watson's caring theory to the nursing community.

Facilitate the understanding of her work allowing nurses to readily apply this knowledge within their practice.


Describe the general aspects of Watson's caring theory.

Describe how Watson's caring theory can be applied to clinical practice.

Describe the person through Watson's caring lens.

Describe the person's health through Watson's caring lens.

Describe nursing through Watson's caring lens.

Key Words: Watson's caring theory, clinical caritas processes, transpersonal caring relationships, caring occasion, clinical application of Watson's theory


As most health care systems around the world are undergoing major administrative restructuring, we expose ourselves to the risk of dehumanizing patient care. If we are to consider caring as the core of nursing, nurses will have to make a conscious effort to preserve human caring within their clinical, administrative, educational, and/or research practice. Caring must not be allowed to simply wither away from our heritage.

To help preserve this heritage, caring theories such as those from Jean Watson, Madeleine Leininger, Simone Roach, and Anne Boykin are vital. Through this continuing education paper we will learn the essential elements of Watson's caring theory and explore an example of a clinical application of her work.


The changes in the health care delivery systems around the world have intensified nurses' responsibilities and workloads. Nurses must now deal with patients' increased acuity and complexity in regard to their health care situation. Despite such hardships, nurses must find ways to preserve their caring practice and Jean Watson's caring theory can be seen as indispensable to this goal. Through this pragmatic continuing education paper, we will explore the essential elements of Watson's caring theory and, in a clinical application, illustrate how it can be applied in a practice setting.

Being informed by Watson's caring theory allows us to return to our deep professional roots and values; it represents the archetype of an ideal nurse. Caring endorses our professional identity within a context where humanistic values are constantly questioned and challenged (Duquette & Cara, 2000). Upholding these caring values in our daily practice helps transcend the nurse from a state where nursing is perceived as "just a job," to that of a gratifying profession. Upholding Watson's caring theory not only allows the nurse to practice the art of caring, to provide compassion to ease patients' and families' suffering, and to promote their healing and dignity but it can also contribute to expand the nurse's own actualization. In fact, Watson is one of the few nursing theorists who consider not only the cared-for but also the caregiver. Promoting and applying these caring values in our practice is not only essential to our own health, as nurses, but its significance is also fundamentally tributary to finding meaning in our work.

For a more comprehensive, philosophical, or conceptual perspective pertaining to Watson's Caring Theory, the readers can refer to the original work (Watson, 1979, 1988a, 1988b, 1989, 1990a, 1990b, 1990c, 1990d, 1994, 1997a, 1997b, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002a, 2002b, 2002c; Watson & Smith, 2002d), as well other sources, such as McGraw (2002).

Overview of Watson's Caring Theory

First, we begin with an introduction of Dr. Jean Watson. Dr. Watson is an American nursing scholar born in West Virginia and now living in Boulder, Colorado since 1962. From the University of Colorado, she earned her undergraduate degree in nursing and psychology, her master's degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing, and continued to earn her Ph.D. in educational psychology and counseling. She is currently a Distinguished Professor of Nursing and the Murchinson-Scoville Chair in Caring Science at the University...

References: Cara, C. (1999). Caring philosophy and theory for the advancement of the nursing discipline. Closing key note conference. XVI Jornades Catalanes d 'infermeria Intensiva, Barcelone, Espagne.
Cara, C., & Gagnon, L. (2000). Une approche basée sur le «caring»: Un nouveau regard sur la réadaptation. Recueil d 'abrégés du 4ème colloque Alice-Girard (p. 12). Montréal, Québec: Faculté des sciences infirmières, Université de Montréal.
Duquette, A., & Cara, C. (2000). Le caring et la santé de l 'infirmière. L 'infirmière Canadienne, 1(2), 10-11.
McGraw, M.J. (2002). Watson 's philosophy in nursing practice. In M.R. Alligood, & A. Marriner Tomey (Eds.), Nursing theory: Utilization and application (pp. 97-122). Toronto, Canada: Mosby.
Watson, J
Watson, J. (1988a). New dimensions of human caring theory. Nursing Science Quarterly, 1(4), 175-181.
Watson, J. (1988b). Nursing: Human science and human care. A theory of nursing (2nd printing). New York: National League for Nursing. (Original work published in 1985.)
Watson, J
Watson, J. (1990a). Caring knowledge and informed moral passion. Advances in Nursing Science, 13(1), 15-24.
Watson, J. (1990b). Human caring: A public agenda. In J.S. Stevenson & T. Tripp-Reimer (Eds.), Knowledge about care and caring (pp. 41-48). Kansas, MO: American Academy of Nursing.
Watson, J
Watson, J. (1990d). Transpersonal caring: A transcendent view of person, health, and healing. In M.E. Parker (Ed.), Nursing theories in practice (pp. 277-288). New York: National League for Nursing.
Watson, J
Watson, J. (1997b). The theory of human caring: Retrospective and prospective. Nursing Science Quarterly, 10(1), 49-52.
Watson, J. (1999). Postmodern nursing and beyond. Toronto, Canada: Churchill Livingstone.
Watson, J. (2000). Via negativa: Considering caring by way of non-caring. The Australian Journal of Holistic Nursing, 7(1), 4-8.
Watson, J. (2001). Jean Watson: Theory of human caring. In M.E. Parker (Ed.), Nursing theories and nursing practice (pp. 343-354). Philadelphia: Davis.
Watson, J
Watson, J. (2002b). Instruments for assessing and measuring caring in nursing and health sciences. New York: Springer.
Watson, J
Watson, J. (Ed.) (1994). Applying the art and science of human caring. New York: National League for Nursing.
Watson, J., & Smith, M. (2002). Transpersonal caring science and the science of unitary human beings: A transtheoretical discourse for nursing knowledge development. International Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37(5), 452-461.

Premises and Values
Watson, 1988b, pp
Watson, 1999, pp. 102-103
Caring is based on an ontology and ethic of relationship and connectedness, and of relationship and consciousness
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