Jean Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing: Enhancing Patient Care and Promoting Healing

As nursing students, you are constantly exposed to different nursing theories and philosophies essential to your future practice. One of the most prominent nursing theories is the Philosophy of Nursing by Jean Watson. Watson was a nursing theorist and professor who developed her theory in the late 1970s. Today, many nursing professionals recognize and appreciate her philosophy worldwide. This article will take a closer look at Jean Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing and how it can help enhance patient care and promote healing.

Background on Jean Watson

Jean Watson was born in 1940 in West Virginia, United States. She received her nursing degree from the Lewis Gale School of Nursing and her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. in educational psychology and counseling from the University of Colorado. Additionally, Watson worked as a staff nurse, head nurse, and faculty member at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center for over 20 years. She also taught at the University of Alabama, the University of Texas Health Science Center, and the University of Colorado.

Overview of Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing

Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing focuses on the belief that caring is the essence of nursing. Ideally, it focuses on the human-to-human relationship between the nurse and the patient to promote overall well-being. Watson also developed 10 Carative Factors to guide for nurses to create a caring and healing environment for their patients. The 10 Carative Factors are as follows:

  1. The formation of a humanistic-altruistic system of values
  2. Instillation of faith and hope
  3. Cultivation of sensitivity to self and others
  4. Development of a helping-trust relationship
  5. Promotion and acceptance of the expression of positive and negative feelings
  6. Systematic use of the scientific problem-solving method for decision-making
  7. Promotion of interpersonal teaching-learning
  8. Provision for a supportive, protective, and corrective mental, physical, socio-cultural, and spiritual environment
  9. Assistance with the gratification of human needs
  10. Allowance for existential-phenomenological forces
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The human connection is also essential to Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing. She believes that nurses should take the time to connect with their patients personally, treating them as unique individuals with their values, beliefs, and experiences.

Application of Watson’s Philosophy in Nursing Practice

Nurse can apply the Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing in various settings. In hospitals, nurses can implement the Carative Factors in their daily practice by connecting with their patients, listening to their concerns, and addressing their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Moreover, nurses can provide a supportive and protective environment for their patients, ensuring their safety and well-being in long-term care facilities. In community health settings, nurses can promote health education and disease prevention, empowering patients to take control of their health.

Implementing Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing can enhance patient care and promote healing. In this case, fostering a caring and healing environment, nurses can help patients feel more comfortable, reduce anxiety, and improve their overall health outcomes.

Criticisms of Watson’s Philosophy

Despite the widespread acceptance of Jean Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing, there are some criticisms leveled against it. One criticism is that Watson’s philosophy is too subjective, relying heavily on intuition and personal experience. Critics argue that this subjectivity undermines the scientific rigor of nursing practice and hinders efforts to standardize care.

Another criticism is that Watson’s philosophy lacks empirical evidence to support its claims. Specifically, critics argue that there is insufficient empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of the 10 Carative Factors or the human connection in promoting healing.

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Counterarguments to these criticisms include recognizing nursing as a complex and holistic practice that cannot be fully captured by empirical data alone. First, Watson’s philosophy emphasizes the importance of subjective experience and intuition in nursing practice, which cannot be easily measured. Furthermore, while there may be limited empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of Watson’s philosophy, it is important to recognize the value of clinical experience and patient feedback in evaluating the impact of nursing care.


Jean Watson’s Philosophy of Nursing has significantly impacted the nursing profession. Specifically, it emphasizes the importance of a holistic, humanistic approach to patient care. By focusing on the ten Carative Factors and the human connection, Watson’s philosophy has helped nurses to provide more compassionate and patient-centered care.

Nursing students can benefit from learning about Watson’s philosophy as they begin their clinical practice, as it provides a framework for delivering high-quality care. In this case, by applying Watson’s philosophy in various nursing settings, students can learn how to enhance patient care and promote healing through meaningful human connections. By embracing Watson’s philosophy and incorporating it into their practice, nurses can provide more compassionate and effective patient care.

Video Guide


Q: What type of theory is Watson’s caring theory?

A: Jean Watson’s caring theory is a nursing theory that emphasizes the importance of caring and the human connection in nursing practice. It is often classified as a holistic, humanistic, and transpersonal theory.

Q: What is Jean Watson known for?

A: Jean Watson is known for contributing to the nursing profession through her philosophy of caring. She is the founder of the Watson Caring Science Institute and has authored numerous books and articles on nursing and human caring.

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Q: What are the three main conceptual elements of Watson’s theory?

A: Watson’s theory’s three main conceptual elements are the carative factors, the transpersonal caring relationship, and the caring occasion/caring moment.

Q: How do you apply Jean Watson’s theory?

A: Nurses can apply Jean Watson’s theory in various nursing settings by creating a caring environment and connecting with patients. They can achieve this by implementing the carative factors and promoting a transpersonal caring relationship.

Q: What is Watson’s theory of behaviorism?

A: Jean Watson’s theory is not related to behaviorism. Instead, it focuses on the human connection and the importance of caring in nursing practice.

Q: How is Watson’s theory used today?

A: Watson’s theory is widely used in contemporary nursing practice, emphasizing the importance of caring and the human connection in patient care. It can be applied in various nursing settings to enhance patient care and promote healing.

Q: What are the strengths of Jean Watson’s theory?

A: The strengths of Jean Watson’s theory include its emphasis on caring, human connection, and the promotion of healing. It also provides a framework for nurses to develop a caring relationship with patients, which can lead to better patient outcomes.

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