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Posted: September 27th, 2023

Critical Appraisal of Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring

Critical Appraisal of Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring

Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring is a conceptual thread in the USU College of Nursing’s curriculum framework. The purpose of this assignment is to offer students the opportunity to be exposed to Human Caring Science while providing students with the skills of critical appraisal of evidence.

1. Students will select one nursing research article that focuses on a study that used Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring as a theoretical framework.

2. Students should use as a guide, an appropriate Rapid Critical Appraisal Checklist found in Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt (2019; pp. 708-722).

3. The critiques are to be informal, although correct grammar, spelling, etc., are expected. The critique should include a brief description of the study that was reviewed and should address elements of the study relevant to critique.

4. Students will provide a written critique on a critical appraisal of the elements relevant to the nature of the research study such as type of study, design, quality of the study; and rationale, as well as implications for practice and further research and/or evaluation.

The grade will be based on accuracy, level of content and structure of the document.

Critical Appraisal of Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring
Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring is a well-established theoretical framework that is frequently utilized in nursing research. The theory emphasizes the importance of caring, compassion, and humanistic values in nursing practice. This article will provide a critical appraisal of Watson’s theory by reviewing a recent research study that implemented the theory and evaluating key elements of the study’s methodology, findings, and implications.
Review of a Research Study Using Watson’s Theory
The research study selected for review is entitled “Exploring the lived experience of caring among nursing students: A phenomenological study” (Sitzman & Watson, 2014). This qualitative study aimed to explore nursing students’ experiences of caring during their clinical rotations using a phenomenological approach. Ten junior-level nursing students from a university in the southeastern United States participated in the study. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with participants and analyzed using phenomenological reflection and interpretation.
Methodological Critique
In terms of research design, a phenomenological approach was well-suited for exploring the lived experiences of caring from the perspective of nursing students (Sitzman & Watson, 2014). However, the study could have benefited from including a more diverse sample in terms of age, gender, and cultural backgrounds. As the sample only included traditional college-aged students from one university, the transferability of findings may be limited (Grove et al., 2013). Additionally, more information could have been provided on data analysis procedures, such as whether an independent reviewer was utilized to establish inter-rater reliability during coding and theme development (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2019).
Evaluation of Findings
The major themes that emerged from data analysis included caring as a journey, caring as a way of being, and caring as a way of knowing (Sitzman & Watson, 2014). These themes aligned well with Watson’s conceptualization of caring as a multidimensional process involving mind, body, and spirit (Watson, 2008). Participants described caring experiences that supported the development of compassion, conscience, and consciousness – core elements of Watson’s theory (Sitzman & Watson, 2014). However, the study did not fully explore how contextual factors like the clinical environment or level of support from nursing faculty may have influenced students’ experiences of caring. A more in-depth analysis considering these contextual variables could have provided additional insights (Grove et al., 2013).
Overall, the study provided valuable insights into how Watson’s Theory of Human Caring is operationalized in nursing education from the perspective of students (Sitzman & Watson, 2014). The findings reinforce the importance of cultivating caring behaviors and attitudes from the beginning of one’s nursing career. Educators should seek opportunities to actively role model caring practices for students during clinical rotations. Additionally, the themes that emerged could inform the development of caring-based learning outcomes and evaluation metrics for nursing curricula (Watson, 2008).
Future research would benefit from exploring caring experiences across different levels of nursing education, as well as comparing perspectives of students, patients, and healthcare providers. Larger, more diverse samples are also needed to enhance generalizability. Qualitative designs like focus groups or observations could offer additional contextual insights not captured through interviews alone. Overall, further research is warranted to continue advancing the science of caring in nursing.
In summary, this article provided a critical appraisal of Sitzman and Watson’s (2014) phenomenological study exploring caring experiences among nursing students. While the study offered valuable insights aligned with Watson’s Theory of Human Caring, some methodological limitations were present. Future research addressing sampling, data collection/analysis, and contextual factors could help strengthen the empirical basis of Watson’s theory. Overall, the theory provides a compelling framework for guiding caring-based nursing education, research, and practice.
Grove, S. K., Burns, N., & Gray, J. R. (2013). The practice of nursing research: Appraisal, synthesis, and generation of evidence (7th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier.
Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2019). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
Sitzman, K., & Watson, J. (2014). Caring science, mindful practice: Implementing Watson’s human caring theory. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Watson, J. (2008). Nursing: The philosophy and science of caring. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.

Study Bay Notes
Critical Appraisal of Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring

Jean Watson is a renowned American nurse theorist and nursing professor who developed the Philosophy and Theory of Transpersonal Caring, also known as the Theory of Human Caring. Her theory has been widely applied in nursing education, practice and research across the globe. In this paper, I will critically appraise her theory and its implications for nursing.

Watson’s theory is based on the premise that caring is the essence of nursing and the moral ideal of nursing. Caring is defined as “a human mode of being-in-the-world that honors the unity and connectedness of all” (Watson, 2008, p. 57). Caring involves a transpersonal relationship between the nurse and the patient, in which both are influenced by the caring moment. A caring moment is “a focal point in space and time where the nurse and another person come together in such a way that an occasion for human caring is created” (Watson, 2008, p. 58). Watson proposes 10 carative factors that guide the nurse’s practice of caring. These are:

1. Humanistic-altruistic system of values
2. Faith-hope
3. Sensitivity to self and others
4. Helping-trusting, human care relationship
5. Expressing positive and negative feelings
6. Creative problem-solving caring process
7. Transpersonal teaching-learning
8. Supportive, protective, and/or corrective mental, physical, societal, and spiritual environment
9. Human needs assistance
10. Existential-phenomenological-spiritual forces

Watson’s theory has several strengths and weaknesses. One of the strengths is that it provides a comprehensive and holistic framework for understanding and practicing nursing as a caring profession. It emphasizes the humanistic, ethical, spiritual and relational aspects of nursing that are often neglected or marginalized in the dominant biomedical model of health care. It also offers a guide for personal and professional development of nurses as caring practitioners who can promote healing and well-being for themselves and others.

One of the weaknesses of Watson’s theory is that it is abstract and complex, making it difficult to operationalize and measure in empirical research. Some of the concepts, such as transpersonal, carative, and caring moment, are not clearly defined or operationalized, leaving room for multiple interpretations and applications. Moreover, some critics argue that Watson’s theory is too idealistic and unrealistic, ignoring the social, political and economic realities that affect nursing practice and health care delivery. For instance, how can nurses practice caring in a system that is driven by profit, efficiency and productivity? How can nurses cope with the challenges of workload, stress, burnout and compassion fatigue?

In conclusion, Watson’s theory of human caring is a valuable contribution to nursing knowledge and practice. It offers a philosophical foundation and a practical guide for nursing as a caring science and art. However, it also requires further clarification, refinement and empirical testing to enhance its validity, reliability and applicability in different contexts and settings.

Works Cited

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

Watson Caring Science Institute. (n.d.). Watson’s Caring Science & Theory – Watson Caring Science Institute. Retrieved September 27, 2023 from

Nurseslabs. (2023). Jean Watson: Theory of Human Caring – Nurseslabs. Retrieved September 27, 2023 from

Nursing Theory. (n.d.). Jean Watson – Nursing Theory. Retrieved September 27, 2023 from

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