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Care: What Nurses Say and What Nurses Do

Warelow, Philip PhD, RN; Edward, Karen-Leigh PhD, RN; Vinek, Jeanette BScN, MHSc (Nursing), RN

doi: 10.1097/01.HNP.0000318023.53151.33

Caring is neither simply a set of attitudes or theories, nor does it comprise all that nurses do. Nursing care is determined by the way nurses use knowledge and skills to appreciate the uniqueness of the person they are caring for (changing the care noun into a caring verb). The purpose of this article is to present a range of contemporary nurse theorists' ideas on caring and to examine these ideas using the backdrop of nursing as practiced in both Australia and Canada to demonstrate a range of national and international similarities and theoretical beliefs. Caring relationships set up the conditions of trust that enable the one receiving the care to accept the help offered, underpinning the nurse-patient relationship or the therapeutic relationship. Caring is always specific and relational such as that found in the nurse-patient relationship. We believe that caring theory has much to offer nursing practice worldwide. Caring must be considered in the caring context because the nature of the caring relationship is central to most nursing interventions. Nurses need to be able to actually practice caring rather than just theorize about it—using caring theories to inform their practice.

School of Nursing, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia (Dr Warelow); School of Nursing, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia (Dr Edward); and School of Nursing, UBC Okanagan, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada (Ms Vinek).

Corresponding Author: Philip Warelow, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, Deakin University, Waterfront Campus, Geelong 3217, Australia (

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.