Background: J. Watson's (2002) caring theory addresses caring relationships among humans and the deep experiences of life itself. M. Leininger (1988) noted that caring is a universal phenomenon, which is likely to be perceived differently by patients and nurses if they come from different cultural backgrounds. Little is known about the patients' perception of "being cared for" in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where most nurses in the workforce come from cultural backgrounds different from their patients.
Purpose: This study was designed to explore Saudi patient perceptions of important caring behaviors and those most frequently attended to by staff nurses in a multicultural environment.
Methods: A questionnaire survey was used to explore discrepancies between the perceived importance of caring behaviors and how frequently those caring behaviors were attended to by staff nurses. A probability sample of 393 patients was drawn from three hospitals in three different regions of Saudi Arabia. The Caring Behaviors Assessment instrument of S. N. Cronin and B. Harrison (1988) was used in data collection.
Results: Patients rated overall caring behaviors as important (97.2%) and frequently experienced (73.7%). The discrepancy between the importance of and frequency of attendance to caring behaviors by nurses was statistically significant (t = −4.689, p = .001).
Conclusions and Implications for Practice: The caring behaviors based upon Jean Watson's theory were valued by Saudi patients irrespective of their cultural differences with the caregiver. However, the frequency of caring attended to by nurses in teaching/learning and helping/trust behavior subcategories were rated lower. Such is most likely the result of culture differences and language barriers existing between patients and nurses in Saudi Arabia. Results showed that the carative factors in Jean Watson's theory were also applicable to patients in Saudi Arabia and that nursing professionals should base their care on such theory to meet patient needs.