Jean Watson’s Theory of Caring
Jean Watson’s Theory of Caring Jean Watson’s Theory of Caring Dr. Jean Watson developed a theory of human caring that has become essential in nursing. Caring is at the core of nursing and is vital in providing positive patient outcomes. Watson’s theory of caring can be applied to patient situation and his or her environment. She based her theory upon human caring relationships and experiences of human life.
She acknowledges a caring relationship and a caring environment preserve human dignity, wholeness, and integrity and to restore the person’s harmony it is the nurse’s responsibility to assist an individual to establish meaning in illness and suffering (Cara, 2003). Nurses have a responsibility to evaluate the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Watson developed her theory in 1979 and revised it in 1985 and 1988.
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The majority of the revisions was made to her carative factors that she believes is the concept for the core of nursing (Cara, 2003, p. 52). According to Sulimann, Welmann, Omer, and Thomas, (2009), Watson’s theory suggests that, “Caring is a different way of being human, present, attentive, conscious, and intentional. Nursing is centered on helping the patient achieve a higher degree of harmony within mind, body, and soul, and this harmony is achieved through caring transactions involving a transpersonal caring relationship” (p. 294).
The major parts of Watson’s theory are the carative factors, the transpersonal caring relationship, and the caring occasion caring moment (Cara, 2003, p. 51). Watson has 10 carative factors, and she uses the word carative to contrast the word curative used in conventional medicine (Cara, 2003, p. 52). Watson believed that caring and curing were independent of each other (Bailey, 2009, p. 18). Cara (2003) indicates carative factors attempt to, “Honor the human dimensions of nursing’s work and the inner life world and subjective experiences of the people we serve (p. 2). The 10 carative factors are the formation of a humanistic-altruistic value system, instillation of faith and hope, cultivation of sensitivity to self and others, development of helping-trusting relationships, expression of positive and negative feelings, creative problem-solving caring process, promotion of transpersonal teaching and learning, supportive, protective, and corrective mental, physical, societal, and spiritual environment, assistance with human needs, and allowance for existential-phenomenological-spiritual forces (Cohen, 1991, p. 906).
Looking at these carative factors, I can see how Watson sought to address aspects of the patient to make it more of a holistic approach with the concept of caring at the core. These carative factors was used by Watson to develop her transpersonal caring relationship, this relationship describes how the nurse goes beyond an objective assessment, showing concern toward the person’s subjective and deeper meaning regarding his or her own health care situation (Cara, 2003, p. 53). The nurse’s caring consciousness becomes essential to connect and establish a relationship with the cared-for to promote health and healing.
The nurse has a moral commitment to the patient to protect and enhance his or her human dignity as well as his or her deeper self. One of the carative factors of developing a trusting relationship has to be in a place for a transpersonal relationship to occur. In the transpersonal relationship, a mutual instilling of faith and hope are present as described in one of Watson’s carative factors. Developing a transpersonal relationship with the patient’s has to involve a cultivation of sensitivity toward the patient’s and being able to support and protect him or her in the environment is essential for this kind of relationship to occur.
I do not believe in the ability with patient care to have a transpersonal relationship with patients if the nurse cannot first use the carative factors with patients. Watson developed seven assumptions in her caring model to incorporate the humanistic value system with scientific knowledge. Watson believed that practice and knowledge are essential for building a caring-healing framework (Bailey, 2009, p. 18). If we just do one without the other, I personally do not think we will obtain the same results.
We need to be caring toward our patients and show them we care; but we also need to do medical interventions that will bring the caring and healing together, Watson’s seven basic assumptions of the science of caring as follows: 1) Caring can only be effectively demonstrated and practiced interpersonally. 2) Caring consists of carative factors that lead to the satisfaction of certain human needs. 3) Effective caring health and growth for the individual and family. 4) Caring responses accept a person the way he or she is no matter how he or she may change in the future. ) A caring environment allows the patient to choose the best action for him that offers the development of potential at any time. 6) Caring is more healthogenic than curing. Caring is complimentary to the science of curing. 7) The practice of nursing is central to nursing (Bailey, 2009, p. 18). The last assumption that Watson made is that nursing is central to nursing (Bailey, 2009, p. 18). To understand what she meant by this, it is important to see how Watson views nursing. She views the focus of nursing as the interaction between nurse and patient.
She views the goal of nursing as a science where the health and illness experiences are mediated by different transactions such as professional, personal, scientific, and ethical. Last she views the uniqueness of nursing as the spiritual growth of people within these interactions. They can release feelings, and help gain self-healing (Cohen, 1991, p. 906). I have seen how she viewed different aspects of nursing and how they convert over to caring moments with our patients. I recently had a caring moment with a patient who contributed to my own self-actualization.
My patient was a 78-year-old male admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and a collapsed lung. Two chest tubes was placed in his left lung and chest x-rays was obtained showing the presence of a cancerous tumor. Upon hearing the results he and his family was devastated. He was afraid of dying and what was going to happen to his wife of 60 years. I had a caring moment with him as I sat and listened to him express his feelings about death and dying, and he shared how he was feeling. I allowed him to discuss his beliefs of the dying process and how he viewed them.
He said he felt much better having someone listen to him express his feelings. He believed he could face death and that he needed to look deep into himself and trust that his wife would be all right. This was a caring moment with this elderly gentleman in which I showed my patient he was worth my time. He could go very deep because of the trust we had been building. Watson defines the person as a being in the world comprised of body, mind, and spirit. These are influenced by the concept that oneself is unique and free to make choices.
She sees a person as one that needs to be accepted for whom he or she is and who he or she may become (Cara, 2003, p. 55). With my patient, I operated in this view of the person as I demonstrated several of the carative factors of Watson’s theory with my patient. I could help him find a sense of faith and hope that his wife would be taken care of after his death. I allowed him to express his positive and negative feelings about dying. I used transpersonal teaching and learning with him as I taught him some of the details of what happens as he dies as well as I learned much about him as a person and how he sees life and death.
I met his physical needs by keeping him comfortable and I offered support for his mental, physical, and spiritual environment. With his permission, I arranged a visit with the chaplain, to offer more spiritual support for him. Watson’s definition of health is a person’s subjective experience, and one of her assumptions about health is that caring will promote health with the patient or the family (Cara, 2003, p. 56). I believe that each individual person has his or her own idea of what health means to him or her.
We need to discover how each patient defines health for his or her own situation. In this moment with my patient, I worked with him to promote health. This was not the health that immediately comes to one’s mind. This was not health as an absence of illness. This patient was not going to get better in his physical health. I tried to promote health with him in the spiritual and emotional parts of the patient. He began to release the worries about his wife and find a more healthful attitude to continue in after our conservation.
The caring environment that Watson describes is her assumption allows the person to choose the best actions for him at any time, and the nurse can help facilitate the environment that the patient desires. My patient wanted some time alone with his wife in the room and did not want to offend his other family members. I told him not to worry about it that I would take care of that for him, and he could focus on having some time with his wife. This was important for him and I could facilitate this change in environment for my patient. He made the decision, but I helped to facilitate it.
Watson’s caring theory really affected me and the area of nursing that I am currently working. I am working on an intensive care unit where my patients come in near death situations daily. These patients need a nurse who understands what it means to care and develop a transpersonal relationship. These patients are coming to grips with the facts that they are about to lose their lives and what happens when they die. They begin questioning everything about this life and what happens to them when they die. These patients really need to be seen as unique individuals with specific needs of their own.
My caring moment with my patient who seems like his life was greatly fulfilled prior to death leads me to believe that it is very possible to implement Watson’s theory in day-to- day nursing practice. Through the research on Watson’s theory of caring, it provided me with the ability to learn the essential elements of her theory and apply them to clinical situation in the work environment. References Bailey, D. (2009). Caring defined: a comparison and analysis. International Journal for Human Caring, 13(1), 16-31. Retrieves from CINTAHL Plus with Full Text database. Cara, C. (2003).
A pragmatic view of Jean Watson’s caring theory. International Journal for Human Caring, 7(3), 51-61. Retrieved from CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Cohen, J. (1991). Two portraits of caring: a comparison of theorists, Leininger and Watson. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 16(8), 899-909. Retrieved from CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Suliman,W. , Welmann, E. , Omer, T. , & Thomas, L. (2009). Applying Watson’s Nursing Theory to Assess Patient Perceptions of Being Cared for in a Multicultural Environment. Journal of Nursing Research (Taiwan Nurses Association). 17 (4), 293-300. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database