Katie Eriksson’s Theory of Caritative Caring

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Katie Eriksson (1943-2019)

  • A famous Finland-Swedish theorist in Nordic countries.
  • Contributed to the development of caring science.
  • Began to develop her ideas in the 1970s.
  • The created a scientific discipline of caring science.
  • Strengthened international cooperation on issues of care.

Note: Katie Eriksson is a Finland-Swedish nursing theorist that one of the first to work on the science of care in Nordic countries. Having begun the search for a model of care, which later became the basis of the theory of caritative care back in the 1970s, Eriksson is the forerunner of research on the science of care (Alligood, 2021). As a teacher and researcher, Eriksson developed the science of care as an academic discipline and contributed to the formation of this science and cooperation within it at the international level. Her theory of caritative caring is mainly known in Nordic countries due to the work and publications of Eriksson there but also received international publicity.

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Ideas at the Core of Eriksson’s Theory

  • Caritas – mercy and love, the care’s motive.
  • Dignity – the right to be ethically treated.
  • Suffering is the opposite of health.
  • Human beings unite body, soul, and spirit.
  • Health combines doing, being, and becoming.

Note: It is necessary to consider her vision of some ideas laid in caritative caring to understand Eriksson’s theory better. Caritas combines mercy and love and pushes people to care for others (Alligood, 2021). At the same time, care must be ethical, respect human dignity and relieve suffering. It is the suffering opposite to health, not illness, and it leads to the appearance of a suffering human being (patient). (Näsman, 2020). Eriksson sees people as religious beings, which once again emphasizes the importance of respect for dignity. Finally, her comprehensive understanding of health includes strength, well-being, integrity, and holiness. Eriksson also paid considerable attention to caring culture – the environment, which can contribute to better health and consists of cultural traditions, and human preferences.

Theory of Caritative Caring

  • Care is the caritative approach’s basis.
  • Act of care is responsibility and service.
  • Care is natural to humans.
  • Care is characterized by tending, playing, and learning.

Care in various forms improves health. Note: Combining Eriksson’s critical ideas, the theory of caritative caring is based on care, which implies a warm, honest, and ethical attitude towards a person. The act of care, in this case, is accepting responsibility for others and a willingness to help them (Pennbrant & Karlsson, 2019). Moreover, care as a pattern of behavior is natural for humans (Näsman, 2020). The concept includes the characteristics of tending, playing, and learning, where tending is love and warmth, playing is an expression of desires, art, and similar aspects in achieving health, and learning is development (Pennbrant & Karlsson, 2019). Professionals in the process of fulfilling their duties and research should not lose such an ability to care (Näsman, 2020). Caring can take various forms, depending on the suffering, but it serves to improve health.

Application of Theory in Practice

  • Applicable in various healthcare settings.
  • Research and practice prove the effectiveness.
  • Extended to other areas (leadership, education, etc.).
  • Example: care of the elderly in nursing homes.
  • Conclusion: a caritative approach improves patient health.

Note: The theory of caritative caring is applicable in different contexts of nursing work. Its effectiveness has been confirmed by research and practical applications, for example, at the University of Helsinki Hospital and other hospitals in Finland and Sweden (Alligood, 2021). In addition to various hospital settings (from acute to psychiatric wards), the theory is applied in leadership, training, and research. Under caritative leadership, nurses serve patients by efficiently organizing work processes, taking into account respect for dignity (Näsman, 2020). In education and research, the proposals put forward by Eriksson are expanding and developing, becoming part of the education of medical staff.

An example of an approach application is the care of the older generation. In nursing homes, they should be able to be heard, receive quality care, and observe the traditions of their culture. For example, some patients may need to communicate with the priest, while others need time and a place for privacy and prayer. In an atmosphere of understanding and respect, their health will remain at a higher level. Thus, the caritative caring proposed by Katie Eriksson can improve patient health.


Alligood, M. R. (Ed.). (2021). Nursing theorists and their work (10th ed.). Elsevier.

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: An International Journal for Healthcare Professionals, 21(4), e12321. Web.

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Pennbrant, S., & Karlsson, M. (2019). Caring for older people – improving healthcare quality to ensure well-being and dignity. Universal Health Coverage, 61. Web.

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NursingBird. (2022, October 1). Katie Eriksson’s Theory of Caritative Caring. Retrieved from https://nursingbird.com/katie-erikssons-theory-of-caritative-caring/


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Work Cited

"Katie Eriksson’s Theory of Caritative Caring." NursingBird, 1 Oct. 2022, nursingbird.com/katie-erikssons-theory-of-caritative-caring/.


NursingBird. (2022) 'Katie Eriksson’s Theory of Caritative Caring'. 1 October.


NursingBird. 2022. "Katie Eriksson’s Theory of Caritative Caring." October 1, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/katie-erikssons-theory-of-caritative-caring/.

1. NursingBird. "Katie Eriksson’s Theory of Caritative Caring." October 1, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/katie-erikssons-theory-of-caritative-caring/.


NursingBird. "Katie Eriksson’s Theory of Caritative Caring." October 1, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/katie-erikssons-theory-of-caritative-caring/.