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Theory Evaluation: Swanson’s Theory of Caring

A variety of models that comprise nursing theory guide nurses toward better patient care. Swanson’s theory of caring emerges as a notable mid-range theory in nursing, expertly braided with the complicated reality of nursing practice. This is an attempt to interpret the author’s reasoning for selecting Swanson’s theory of caring over other existing nursing ideas. Its secondary purpose is to clarify the theory’s applicability to the entire nursing profession. This essay tries to critically investigate Swanson’s Theory of Caring using a three-pronged approach: an explanation of the theory, an analysis of the theory, and an evaluation of the theory.

Nursing, as a dynamic discipline, is shaped by the underlying theories. Swanson’s Theory of Caring stands out as a fundamental work in this category of theories due to its extensive examination of both broad and narrow considerations (Andershed & Olsson, 2009). Before delving further into Swanson’s concept of caring, it is critical to understand why it was chosen over other nursing ideas. Understanding the model’s underlying concepts and inherent traits can provide light on its ability to influence and improve clinical practice, ultimately leading to improved person-centred care (Andershed & Olsson, 2009). I would like to approach the following conversation with a practical and detail-oriented perspective because it also investigates the theory’s applicability in my therapeutic domain.

Swanson’s Theory of Caring, which is classified as a middle-range nursing theory, primarily discusses its function as a prescription (Swanson, 1991). The essential principle is that, unlike theoretical concepts, nursing care requires a tangible structure and technique for implementation. Instead of broad theories that risk being extremely broad or overly precise on a particular clinical situation, Swanson’s hypothesis is an ideal compromise. Because of its broad-medium coverage region, it provides practitioners with a compass that is reasonable and moderate. This theory aims to be applicable across diverse healthcare contexts, enabling nurses to meet the multiple needs exhibited by their patients (Swanson, 1991). Swanson’s Theory of Caring is built on five pillars: The five concepts explaining this are “knowing,” “being with,” “doing for,” “enabling,” and “maintaining belief.” These give an unmistakable comprehension of patient care and formulate a comprehensive nursing approach to caring.

Knowing in Swanson’s theory of caring encompasses knowing about a patient from within him/her, beyond mere awareness of his or her symptoms and medical background. It appreciates the human being beyond the patient, demonstrating an awareness of each person’s needs, as well as clinically necessary items. The theory behind such nurses is that they try to study the histories, beliefs, and tastes of their patients so that they can deliver treatment tailored for them. This idea acknowledges that good treatment is not just about the body of the patient but encompasses the complex web of who a person is and where they live as well.

According to Swanson (1991), the addition of “being with” enlarges the nurse–patient relationship into something much more than a mere exchange of medical data. It stresses establishing a rapport or emotional relationship with the patient. Trust, ease of doing business, and feeling connected are all built on this emotional connection. Nurses interact emotionally with patients as part of their “being with” practice by acknowledging and recognizing their variety of feelings. This person enhances the patient’s experience by giving an emotional component to the treatment setting, making them feel more supported and understood.

The term “doing for” refers to all of the concrete things that nurses do to assist their patients. It entails performing tasks that improve the patient’s health and comfort (Jarvis, 2019). This concept emphasizes the hands-on aspects of caregiving, such as drug administration, procedure performance, and satisfying urgent needs. Following this theory’s principle, nurses actively advocate for their patients, doing everything necessary to promote their health and well-being.

Despite the fact that Swanson did not provide a specific picture depicting the structural relationships within her Theory of Caring, the principles given within it are inextricably interwoven (M. J & Samson, 2012). The dynamic interaction developed by this reliance demonstrates the significance of complete treatment. In order to incorporate this theory into nursing practice, it is necessary to recognize that the ideas offered here are not distinct but rather complementary elements of a whole. It allows for more excellent adaptation and flexibility when dealing with changing individual needs within healthcare systems. Nurses should adopt a comprehensive and combined way of care delivery that considers both physical and psychological aspects of the interaction.

The basic concepts upon which The Theory of Caring by Swanson depends highlight the central role of caring in nursing practice (M. J & Samson, 2012). First, it asserts that nursing includes care because caring is primary and not secondary to interacting with the patient through intervention and, ultimately, the total experience of the nurse-patient interaction. According to this perspective, caring is an evolving energy that affects every aspect of the entire nursing process. This argument states that a nurse’s compassion has a critical effect on patients’ successes or improvements. The paper highlights that giving care is very therapeutic to a patient and helps him recover despite going beyond tech competence and medical understanding.

Secondly, Swanson’s Theory of Caring posits that establishing a caring link between a nurse and a patient is vital for the most desired health outcomes in healthcare provision (M. J & Samson, 2012). It highlights appreciation of the interrelationship between the patient’s physical and mental recovery and the nature of the relationship with a nurse. This implies that a caring relationship is envisaged as a dynamic and reciprocal exchange whereby the nurse’s sympathy, benevolence, and commitment towards the health of the patient promote a climate of confidence, peacefulness, and frank dialogue. This notion suggests that this relational aspect is not just another facet of the care provided but a key contributor to its success.

Swanson’s theory of caring emerged in 1990 as a response to evolving trends in nursing. It shows that Swanson has made notable contributions to nursing theory and practice with a focus on giving high-quality care (Yang, 2020). In light of the complexity of nursing, this theory was developed by Swanson to guide nurses in giving care beyond the clinical environment. The decade’s historical context complements the theory’s adaptability due to the rising awareness of the necessity for patient-centred and compassionate care.

Swanson’s Theory of Caring is distinguished by its purposeful emphasis on the incorporation of caring behaviours into the routine of nursing practice. Rather than focusing on abstract principles, it demonstrates how caring concepts can be used in real-world healthcare situations (Yang, 2020). The nurse plays an active part in this strategy, which necessitates her understanding of the patient’s condition and then helping to improve it in any manner she can. Swanson believes that caring is a dynamic and intentional action that nurses should actively embody and practice as part of their professional identity. Swanson’s Theory of Caring is a valuable and actionable guide for nurses aiming to improve the quality and impact of their caregiving because of its emphasis on actual care execution.

Finally, Swanson’s Theory of Caring stands out as a critical and practical foundation in nursing theories. Its advanced approach emphasizes the active implementation of loving actions. The modest scope of the theory avoids extreme generalization or limited specialization while still giving helpful guidance. “Knowing,” “being with,” “doing for,” “enabling,” and “maintaining belief” are nursing concepts that, when combined, give a comprehensive approach to patient care that values empathy, practical solutions, and patient agency. The concept highlights the importance of a loving relationship in deciding optimal health outcomes for patients, based on the belief that nursing is primarily about caring for others. Swanson’s Theory of Caring, developed in response to the changing healthcare system in the 1990s, stands out by emphasizing the significance of nurses actively displaying caring behaviours in their profession. It encourages nurses to live these ideals and underlines the long-term value of authentic and compassionate nursing care in this ever-changing healthcare system.


Andershed, B., & Olsson, K. (2009). Review of research related to Kristen Swanson’s middle-range theory of caring. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences23(3), 598–610.

Jarvis, K. (2019). Swanson’s Theory of Caring: An Application to the Role of Nursing Education. International Journal for Human Caring23(3), 266–271.

  1. J, L., & Samson, R. (2012). Insights from Kristen M Swanson’s Theory of Caring.

Swanson, K. M. (1991). Empirical Development Of a Middle Range Theory of Caring. Nursing Research40(3), 161–165.

Yang, Y.-C. (2020). Nursing Experience of Applying Swanson’s Caring Theory to a Patient with COVID-19. 領導護理, 9–24.


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