Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Westra, Laura,






The purpose of this essay is to investigate the use of caring as an ethical grounding for the nurse-client relationship. In the first chapter, some of the crucial components of an effective relationship are identified. Applying these components, three models of nurse-client interaction are reviewed: parental, technical, and contractual. Although all three are found wanting, the contractual approach is deemed the most workable, because it recognizes the values of both nurse and client. However, its view of them as equal partners in a non-legalistic agreement is not realistic, and is somewhat impersonal in its approach. Caring theory, which accommodates the major assumptions, principles, and convictions of the contractual model, is then presented as a viable alternative. In particular, Jean Watson's (1979, 1988) transpersonal human-to-human care theory is explored and discussed. However this approach also has its problems. Critics object to Watson's idealism, and cite burnout and loss of objectivity as serious threats to a caring relationship. Furthermore, the total lack of any inherent control within the concept of caring itself, poses a major difficulty. There is no way to know how or how much to care. Given the observed similarities between Watson's theory and the virtue theory expounded by Alasdair MacIntrye in After Virtue (1984), the MacIntyrian theory is suggested as a possible solution. This last section does not claim to have demonstrated that virtue theory is an appropriate response, but with the increased interest in the character of the agent, it provides promise and merits further study. The conclusion is that Watson's theory is better suited to nursing relationships which extend over an prolonged period of time, for example, community health or psychiatric nursing. Caring itself is crucial to an ethical nurse-client relationship and may be more appropriately viewed as a moral imperative, a stance, or a virtue.Dept. of Philosophy. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1997 .S97. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 37-01, page: 0079. Adviser: Laura Westra. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1997.