Nursing theories explain the approaches used in nursing practice and assist nurses in distinguishing nursing from other disciplines. They allow nurses to recognize the foundation of nursing practice, understand concepts related to care provision, and utilize the knowledge to apply evidence-based practice in their clinical settings. Jean Watson’s caring forms part of the body of knowledge on which delivery of care is based. Interpersonal relationships connect people at a deeper level and promote understanding. The two concepts selected from Jean Watson’s theory were the interpersonal maintenance of relationships and healing processes. From the two concepts selected, a concept of interest drawn from Watson’s theory of human caring, which can be applied in research and clinical nursing practice, is based on her perception of the importance of interpersonal maintenance of relationships.
Description of the Theory
According to Watson’s theory, caring is a process based on ten carative factors or caritas processes. These include showing love and being kind to self and others, being authentically present to promote hope, fostering one’s spiritual practices, developing trusting interpersonal caring relationships, showing empathy, using knowledge, engaging in teaching-learning experiences, valuing humanity, and accepting the miracles of life (Özkan, Okumuş, Buldukoğlu, & Watson, 2013). As the theory advanced, each carative factor was captured by a single descriptive word, which included embrace, inspire, trust, nurture, forgive, deepen, balance, co-create, minister, and open. Watson believed that being aware of the carative factors could help nurses understand their connection to patients’ health and their recovery. For instance, by understanding the concept of interpersonal relationships, nurses would develop better relationships with their patients, which would promote healing (Wei & Watson, 2019). These carative factors have been used to advance healthcare.
Like most nursing theories, Watson’s theory is based on her life experiences and assessment of the nursing profession. Watson’s theory emerged from her quest to create new meaning and respect to the nursing world and the practice of patient care. The approach was also part of her first book that was focused on the philosophy and science of caring and examined the inner subjective life experiences of a person and those around them (Watson, 2007). Her first work, Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring, also served to provide an ethical-based philosophical foundation that could explain the human aspects of nursing. The theoretical concepts that form her theory were based on Watson’s personal and professional experiences, which were induced by clinical practices, empirical research, and a combination of her philosophical intellect and experiential work. Moreover, the concept is grand as it is based on her philosophical background and personal experience in nursing. The theory addresses the broad spectrum of caregiving practices and does not focus on the management of a specific population (Watson, Warson’s theory of human caring and subjective living experiences: Carative factors/ caritas processes as a disciplinary guide to the professional nursing practice, 2007). As such, Watson’s theory emerged from a combination of her life experiences, personal values, beliefs, and philosophical background.
Major Concepts of the Theory
Watson’s theory focuses on human relationships and nursing practices and it has four basic concepts that include healing processes, interpersonal maintenance of relationships, awareness of healing, and the caring moment. These core concepts are derived from the ten carative factors described in Watson’s theory (Ozan, Okumus, & Lash, 2015). The concept of healing processes is based on assisting patients to recover by showing them empathy, kindness and love, and creating a healing environment at all levels where wholeness, comfort, dignity, and peace are upheld. On the other hand, interpersonal maintenance of relationships relates to the development of caring interpersonal relationships between nurses and their colleagues and nurses and their patients. This concept is also based on engaging in teaching-learning experiences and cultivation of sensitivity to personal needs and those of others and it aligns with the healing process concept through its involvement in teaching-learning experiences, which can be used to assist patients to learn about their condition and its management processes.
The other two concepts on awareness of healing and caring moments are based on the carative factors on accepting the existence of phenomenal spiritual dimensions related to healing and soul care and use of scientific problem-solving caring processes respectively. awareness of healing is connected to the healing processes through its consideration of different forms of healing that include both physical and spiritual aspects of healing, which cannot be described through scientific experimentation. It also relates to interpersonal maintenance of relationships through its focus on the provision of holistic care that goes beyond the physical needs of the patient. The concept of caring moments is interconnected with the other concepts as it based on the processes of caring for patients, development of caring interpersonal relations, and provision of support to patients (Watson, Warson’s theory of human caring and subjective living experiences: Carative factors/ caritas processes as a disciplinary guide to the professional nursing practice, 2007; Ozan, Okumus, & Lash, 2015). The interconnection of these concepts forms the structural foundation of Watson’s theory.
INTERPERSONAL MAINTENANCE OF RELATIONSHIPS
Watson viewed interpersonal relationships as being an important aspect of nursing care. The concept of interpersonal maintenance of relationships in Watson’s theory relates to the development and sustenance of a helping, trusting, and authentic relationship based on care provision (Watson, 2007). In terms of the relationship between nurses, the mentioned concept forms the basis of nurture carative factor and is centered on cultivating caring relationships, honoring each other’s expertise, and valuing each other’s contribution to the team. Watson acknowledged that nurses and patients come from different backgrounds and believed that when people from different backgrounds formed an authentic relationship, they could expand each other’s worldviews (Wei & Watson, 2019). The critical role of interpersonal relationships in nursing according to Watson’s theory and her carative factors explain the importance of applying this concept in clinical practice.
Healing processes in Watson’s theory can be described based on the carative factor on provision of supportive, protective, corrective social, spiritual, and mental environment. As such, the concept is based on creating a healing environment at all levels to ensure that all the need of the patients are met. The different levels of care include physical, non-physical, and consciousness where peace, comfort, beauty, and wholeness or holistic care are encouraged or promoted. The healing processes concept is also based on assistance with the gratification of the patients’ needs through utilization of caring processes with an intentional caring awareness (Watson, 2007). Watson belief in applying both physical and non-physical caring practices to promote healing has promoted the adoption of holistic care.
Watson’s theory is based on her intellectual philosophies, experiences, beliefs, and perceptions about the nursing profession and caregiving roles. The origin of her work was her first book and its focus on the healing processes and interpersonal relationships and the effects of the patients being managed. The concepts described by Watson have brought new meaning to nursing practice. The core concepts discussed in the paper can summarize the ten carative factors that she developed and advanced in her work.
Ozan, Y. D., Okumus, H., & Lash, A. A. (2015). Implementation of Watson’s Theory of Human Caring: A Case Study. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 8(1), 25-35. Retrieved from https://www.internationaljournalofcaringsciences.org/docs/4-Lash%20-%20Original.pdf.
Özkan, İ. A., Okumuş, H., Buldukoğlu, K., & Watson, J. (2013). A Case Study Based On Watson’s Theory of Human Caring: Being an Infertile Woman in Turkey. Nursing Science Quarterly, 26(4), 352-359. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257301660_A_Case_Study_Based_On_Watson’s_Theory_of_Human_Caring_Being_an_Infertile_Woman_in_Turkey.
Watson, J. (2007). Warson’s theory of human caring and subjective living experiences: Carative factors/ caritas processes as a disciplinary guide to the professional nursing practice. Texto Contexto Enferm, Florianópolis, 16(1), 129-135. https://www.scielo.br/pdf/tce/v16n1/a16v16n1.pdf.
Wei, H., & Watson, J. (2019). Healthcare interprofessional team members’ perspectives on human caring: A directed content analysis study. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 6, 17-23. https://www.watsoncaringscience.org/files/PDF/Articles/IJNSarticle-Jan2019.pdf.