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Jean Watson’s Nursing Theory and Application Strategies


It is worth noting that during education and training, medical personnel studies the basic principles of various nursing theories and the way they should be applied to practice. Nevertheless, when entering into practice, healthcare specialists are not always guided by their principles. One of the fundamental theories studied during nurse education is the concept proposed by Jean Watson, which provides for a humanistic approach to the activities of medical personnel. The purpose of this paper is to review this theory and analyze its significance in terms of nursing practice.

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Theory’s Background and Influencing Factors

The theory of Jean Watson is based on the author’s individual observations of the process of caring as well as on her generalizations of the existing experience. The influencing factors that have pushed Watson to propose this theory were the desire to give a new meaning to the nursing profession and characterize its system of values, ethics, and mission in society (Lachman, 2012). In addition, the theorist sought to draw attention to the significance of nursing care in the healthcare system and separate it into an independent discipline.

Watson argues that the current stage of nursing science development should be regarded as a platform for the evolvement of nursing care, and it is the right time not to limit it to specific industries but rather include other branches of science such as philosophy, ecology, education, humanities, and so on in nursing.

Regarding the author’s worldview, she regards nursing care as a unique art of healing that complements the main therapeutic actions. In particular, the values of nursing care, as well as the expertise and skills directed at a person requiring help along with his or her internal processes, are most effectively combined with traditional drug therapy (Lachman, 2012). In addition, focusing on the values and mission of nursing staff, the theorist balances the curative focus of care. From the point of view of her approach, nursing encompasses disciplinary, scientific, and professional practice.

Underlying Assumptions

Jean Watson’s theory belongs to the group of middle-range concepts, which view patient and specialist’s interaction with the individual as the most crucial element of care. The essence of the theory centers around an understanding that care providers should be comprehensive and holistic, which means that nurses should ensure that an individual could heal on the levels of body, mind, and spirit. Experts in the field emphasize that this approach to care provision compiles art and science (Pajnkihar, McKenna, Stiglic, & Vrbnjak, 2017). One of the critical assumptions lies in the fact that this theory gives latitude to the changing environment and provides a platform for the alterations in the nursing practice.

In general, the concept entails four essential elements, which are person, health, setting, and care. The other critical elements are transpersonal caring relationships and an exhibition of love and hope for the patient (Pajnkihar et al., 2017). According to the author, the process of care will be beneficial for the patient when the nurse comprehends the spiritual and personal efforts she or he has to contribute when furnishing care.

Apart from that, it is necessary to dwell upon the seven principles that form the theory. First, caring can become efficient only in cases when it has an interpersonal character. Second, care implies addressing patient needs through creative aspects (Pajnkihar et al., 2017). Third, care should not delineate a patient’s well-being from personal or family growth. Fourth, care should stimulate a patient’s visions of the future. Fifth, an effective healthcare setting should provide individuals with an opportunity to make independent health-related choices. The sixth and seventh principles imply that caring should be a complementary measure to the main course of treatment and that nurses should hold the practice of caring focal to all their actions.

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Strengths and Weakness of the Theory

Notably, the theory has both supporters and those who oppose this approach to nursing care. The particular strengths of this concept are that it puts patients in the family, community, and cultural environment. In addition, it views an individual as the heart of care rather than the technology. Nevertheless, the weaknesses of Watson’s theory are linked to an insignificant amount of attention attributed to the biophysical needs of patients while concentrating on their psychological demands (Ozan, Okumus, & Lash, 2015).

Moreover, the theory should be examined further to be applied to practice effectively. In addition, the possibility of exhibiting the relations propagated by the theory is not high enough, given the current conditions in the healthcare industry. Watson’s theory presupposes the manifestation of compassion and love in the care of patients; however, it is easier for the personnel to perform manipulations aimed at providing care for the patient rather than to show empathy and furnish psychological support.

Application Strategies

To apply Watson’s approach to clinical practice, it is necessary to expand the existing nursing roles. To be more precise, it is important to establish and maintain a trustful and caring relationship with the patient and his or her closest environment. In addition, it is necessary to provide room for expressing both positive and negative emotions a person has related to his or her health while supporting the deep belief system of a person (Ozan et al., 2015).

Moreover, nurses should discuss with the patient the spiritual dimensions of the latter to enable the person to heal in a holistic way. These strategies should be employed simultaneously with the engagement of the patient in teaching-learning experience so that the person can become self-sufficient while healing.

Example from My Professional Practice

When providing care to one of my patients who had his leg amputated, I applied Watson’s theory to practice to ensure that the man’s needs were addressed holistically. The patient’s leg was not healing properly, and he was experiencing depressive moods since he thought that his life has become meaningless. I tried to sustain the trusting relationship so that the patient could express his negative emotions as well as hopes.

Together with the patient, I discussed his future to support his system of beliefs and analyzed his life to assist in finding meaning to it. Moreover, I did my best to provide as much assistance and education to ensure the patient was knowledgeable of the way he could and should take care of himself while compiling it with spiritual experience so that the man would heal harmoniously.


Thus, it can be concluded that Watson’s theory regards caring as a holistic measure. It provides valuable insights into nursing practice by bringing together multiple concepts and approaches. The guidelines provided by the theorist can drive nursing practice so that it becomes more spiritual and supportive, and they transfer the emphasis from the formation of the ability to perform manipulations to the development of spirituality and humanitarian-altruistic value systems. Nevertheless, further research on this theory is needed to be able to understand the way this approach can be applied in the best way.

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Lachman, V. D. (2012). Applying the ethics of care to your nursing practice. Medsurg Nursing: Official Journal of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, 21(2), 112-116.

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.

Pajnkihar, M., McKenna, H. P., Stiglic, G., & Vrbnjak, D. (2017). Fit for practice: Analysis and evaluation of Watson’s theory of human caring. Nursing Science Quarterly, 30(3), 243-252.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Jean Watson's Nursing Theory and Application Strategies." March 5, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Jean Watson's Nursing Theory and Application Strategies'. 5 March.

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