• Ten registered nurses in Hong Kong were interviewed on their perceptions of caring behaviours in their clinical settings, barriers to these behaviours, and possible ways to overcome those barriers.
• Findings showed that respondents valued the importance of expressive behaviours and interpersonal communication skills in providing holistic patient care. They felt constrained by social, economic, cultural, and personal variables such as staff shortages, the traditional task-orientated approach of nursing, the dominance of medicine in the healthcare system, the influence of Chinese culture on work attitudes, and their limited skills and lack of education.
• The situation could be improved through better staff education, colleague support, effective human resources allocation, and promotion of a democratic working environment.
• A creative approach is necessary to integrate these strategies into a healthcare system dominated by technology and economic constraints.