Jean Watson’s Theory Of Human Caring

Jean Watson’s Theory Of Human Caring

Jean Watson’s Theory of  Human Caring/Caring Science is one theoretical framework used throughout the USU College of Nursing courses. The practice implication of Watson’s Human Caring Theory evolves our thinking and approaches to patient care from a mindset of carative (cure) to one of caritas (care). The core principles/practice are founded on a:

  • Practice of loving-kindness and equanimity
  • Authentic presence: enabling deep belief of other (patient, colleague, family, etc.)
  • Cultivation of one’s own spiritual practice toward wholeness of mind/body/spirit—beyond ego
  • “Being” the caring-healing environment
  • Allowing miracles (openness to the unexpected and inexplicable life events)

Some individuals are comfortable framing their practice with Watson while other prefer different theories or collection of theories. However, Watson is based on caring which a foundation of nursing. Anyone could use the core principles to guide decision making. Select one of the core principles and discuss ways you might be able to use in guiding your advanced practice nursing practices.


Watson’s Caring Science Institute. (2018). Core concepts of Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring/Caring Science. Retrieved August 20, 2018 from

  • Jean Watson’s Philosphy of Nursing –

Watson, J. (2008). Nursing: The philosophy and science of caring (rev. ed.), Boulder: University Press of Colorado.

Jean Watson (June 10, 1940 – present) is an American nurse theorist and nursing professor known for her “Philosophy and Theory of Transpersonal Caring.” She has also written numerous texts, including Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring. Watson’s study on caring has been integrated into education and patient care to various nursing schools and healthcare facilities worldwide

Watson’s Philosophy and Science of Caring is concerned with how nurses express care to their patients. Her theory stresses the humanistic aspects of nursing as they intertwine with scientific knowledge and nursing practice

The nursing model states that “nursing is concerned with promoting health, preventing illness, caring for the sick, and restoring health.” It focuses on health promotion, as well as the treatment of diseases. According to Watson, caring is central to nursing practice and promotes health better than a simple medical cure. She believes that a holistic approach to health care is central to the practice of caring in nursing.


According to her theory, caring can be demonstrated and practiced by nurses. Caring for patients promotes growth; a caring environment accepts a person as they are and looks to what they may become.

Watson also defined three of the four metaparadigm concepts in nursing, including the person or human being, health, and nursing. She referred to the human beings as a valued person in and of themselves to be cared for, respected, nurtured, understood, and assisted; in general, a person’s philosophical view as a fully functional integrated self. A human is viewed as greater than and different from the sum of his or her parts. Meanwhile, health is defined as a high level of overall physical, mental, and social functioning, a general adaptive-maintenance level of daily functioning, the absence of illness, or the presence of efforts leading to the absence of illness. And nursing is a science of persons and health-illness experience mediated by professional, personal, scientific, and ethical care interactions.

She does not define the fourth metaparadigm concept of the environment but instead devised 10 caring needs specific carative factors critical to the caring human experience that need to be addressed by nurses with their patients when in a caring role.

10 Carative Factors

Watson’s 10 carative factors are: (1) forming humanistic-altruistic value systems, (2) instilling faith-hope, (3) cultivating a sensitivity to self and others, (4) developing a helping-trust relationship, (5) promoting an expression of feelings, (6) using problem-solving for decision-making, (7) promoting teaching-learning, (8) promoting a supportive environment, (9) assisting with the gratification of human needs, and (10) allowing for existential-phenomenological forces. The first three factors form the “philosophical foundation” for the science of caring, and the remaining seven come from that foundation.

In assisting with the gratification of human needs, Watson’s hierarchy of needs begins with lower-order biophysical needs or survival needs, including the need for food and fluid, elimination, and ventilation. Next are the lower-order psychophysical needs or functional needs, including the need for activity, inactivity, and sexuality. The higher-order psychosocial needs or integrative needs include the need for achievement and affiliation. And finally, the higher-order intrapersonal-interpersonal need or growth-seeking need, which is self-actualization.

The nursing process outlined in Watson’s model contains the same steps as the scientific research process: assessment, plan, intervention, and evaluation. The assessment includes observation, identification, and review of the problem and the formation of a hypothesis. Creating a care plan helps the nurse determine how variables would be examined or measured and what data would be collected. Intervention is the implementation of the care plan and data collection. Finally, the evaluation analyzes the data, interprets the results, and may lead to an additional hypothesis

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