Jean Watson’s Philosophy of Human Caring

The primary purpose of nursing is to interact with patients and provide care to minimize suffering, prevent complications, and facilitate recovery. Various theories have been developed since the time when Florence Nightingale laid the foundation of modern nursing practice. These theories are essential for nurses because they elucidate their beliefs and values, explaining different approaches in patient care (Younas & Quennell, 2019). The idea of human caring was formulated in 1985 by Jean Watson to promote the importance of holistic nursing (Liu & Wang, 2018). In her philosophy, Watson emphasized that “relationship between people explains the secrets of human nature and the greater power … which can stimulate the healing process” (Liu & Wang, 2018, p. 624). Furthermore, this theory claims that positive patient outcomes are attained if an altruistic environment is cultivated in nursing practice, scientific problem-solving methods are utilized, and interpersonal teaching is encouraged (Liu & Wang, 2018). Overall, Watson’s philosophy focuses on interpersonal relations and respect to patients and colleagues to promote better rehabilitation and health.

Watson’s grand theory is considered one of the most developed teachings of nursing practice. According to Mintz-Binder (2019), all nursing theories should define four metaparadigms: person, environment, health, and nursing. Indeed, Watson’s philosophy articulates nursing’s goals in all four domains. Although it has a broad focus, it clearly states the three purposes of nursing, including caring relationships, caring moments, and caring practice (Alharbi & Baker, 2020). Moreover, the seven assumptions of this teaching postulate that productive nursing is done through interpersonal contact fulfilled human needs, prioritization of care, health promotion, acceptance, supportive environment, and integration with treatment (Alharbi & Baker, 2020). Lastly, Watson’s theory has been used in clinical practice, education, and research (Alharbi & Baker, 2020). For example, several Chinese studies showed the effectiveness of this theory in caring for patients with Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, and cancer-associated psychological problems (Alharbi & Baker, 2020). Overall, despite the abstract language, Watson’s teaching is still valuable for patient care.


Alharbi, K., & Baker, D. O. G. (2020). Jean Watson’s middle-range theory of human caring: A critique. International Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Scientific Research, 3(1), 1-14. Web.

Liu, S., & Wang, J. (Eds.). (2018). Research on Watson’s theory of human nature care and its application status. In 2018 2nd International Conference on Education Science and Economic Management (pp. 624-626). Atlantis Press.

Mintz-Binder, R. (2019). The connection between nursing theory and practice. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy, 17(1), 6-9. Web.

Younas, A., & Quennell, S. (2019). Usefulness of nursing theory‐guided practice: An integrative review. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 33(3), 540-555. Web.

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