Theory of Caritative Caring by K. Eriksson: Description and Main Concepts

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 2
Words: 680
Reading time:
3 min

The Theory of Caritative Caring

  • Caritas as the motive for caring
  • The caring process incorporates love and mercy
  • Alleviating suffering as the mission of caring
  • Helping patients to become the desired kind of person
  • Emphasis on the concept of human dignity

Note: Katie Eriksson began developing her theory of caritative caring in the 1970s. According to this theory, caring is an inherent human phenomenon based on Caritas, which is defined as an act of love and mercy (Näsman, 2020). The theory views the nursing mission as the alleviation of human suffering. The aim of the nursing care process is to help patients become the kind of person they want to be in terms of health (Näsman, 2020). The theory places a great emphasis on human dignity, which can be violated during care, for example, when patients cannot make choices for themselves.

The Concept of Caring in Katie Eriksson’s Theory

  • Focus on optimal health and alleviating suffering
  • Caring is an act of love and mercy
  • Strong emphasis placed on the ethos
  • Joining a caring communion
  • Caring elements of learning, tending and playing

Note: Initially, Katie Eriksson saw the primary purpose of nursing care as achieving optimal health. However, eventually, she decided that suffering was even more important in nursing, and alleviating suffering became its main purpose (Näsman, 2020). Caring in this theory is based on love and mercy. Nurses’ ethos, defined as inner ethics, plays a large role in providing such care since it allows nurses to establish a caring communion, that is, relationships with patients based on respect, warmth, and honesty (Fagerström et al., 2021). The caring process is also characterized by learning, tending, and playing, which describe actions directed toward establishing closeness, interacting with patients, and fostering development and growth (Bergbom et al., 2021).

Health in Katie Eriksson’s Theory

  • More than an absence of illness
  • Dimension of health in doing
  • Dimension of health in being
  • Dimension of health in becoming
  • A movement rather than a state

Note: This theory views health as more than an absence of illness because even a person with the disease can feel healthy. Health comprises three dimensions: doing, being, and becoming (Bergbom et al., 2021). Doing this means having a healthy lifestyle. Being refers to aiming for well-being and harmony. Becoming means moving toward greater wholeness and unity in one’s being (Fagerström et al., 2021). Finally, health is regarded as a movement rather than a state because it is not the same at different time periods.

Suffering in the Theory of Caritative Caring

  • Suffering is an indispensable part of life
  • Suffering related to illness
  • Suffering related to care
  • Suffering associated with life
  • The discrepancy between pain and suffering

Note: Suffering is an inseparable element of life, and without it, the nursing profession would be non-existent. There are three types of suffering that individuals may experience. Suffering from illness is the suffering caused by diseases and treatment. Suffering from caring occurs in care situations, especially when nurses violate patients’ dignity (Bergbom et al., 2021). The suffering of life is related to one’s unique situation and may stem from a loss of ability to perform certain tasks or thinking of the meaning of life. Finally, suffering is not necessarily related to pain since individuals may suffer while not experiencing pain, and vice versa.

Human Beings in Katie Eriksson’s Theory

  • Patients as suffering human beings
  • Unity of spirit, soul, and body
  • Possessing wholeness and holiness
  • Dependent on relationships with others
  • Having motives to preserve their health

Note: Since caritative caring focuses on alleviating suffering, the theory views patients as suffering human beings. Individuals are seen as “a unity of body, mind, and spirit,” which explains the multidimensional concept of health (Fagerström et al., 2021, p. 1241). People are also seen as whole and holy; wholeness is understood as the unity of spirit, soul, and body, while holiness is seen as individuals’ uniqueness and dignity (Bergbom et al., 2021). Furthermore, people depend on relationships with other people, including relatives and healthcare professionals, and are motivated to preserve their health because it will allow them to fulfill their potential.


Bergbom, I., Nåden, D., & Nyström, L. (2021). Katie Eriksson’s caring theories. Part 1. The caritative caring theory, the multidimensional health theory and the theory of human suffering. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. Advance online publication. Web.

Fagerström, L. M., Hemberg, J., Koskinen, C., Östman, L., Näsman, Y., Nyholm, L., & Fischer, R. S. (2021). The core of Katie Eriksson’s caritative caring theory – A qualitative study from a postdoctoral perspective. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 35(4), 1240-1249. Web.

Näsman, Y. (2020). The theory of caritative caring: Katie Eriksson’s theory of caritative caring presented from a human science point of view. Nursing Philosophy, 21(4), e12321. Web.