• Caring;
  • China;
  • Nurses;
  • Patients;
  • Perception


The concept of caring is important to both patients and nurses. If patients and nurses perceive caring behaviours differently, patients may not have their needs met or will be dissatisfied with the nursing.


This study conducted in mainland China compared the perceptions of nurses and patients concerning nurses' caring behaviours.


From November 2011 to June 2012, 680 patients and 540 of their nurses in five hospitals in southern, central and eastern China were invited to complete a descriptive comparative survey with four subcategories, the Caring Behaviors Inventory-24. Respondents scored each of the 24 items on the survey from 1 (low) to 6 (high). Of those invited, 595 patients (87.50%) and 445 (82.41%) nurses completed the survey.


The mean item score on the Caring Behaviors Inventory-24 was 4.32 and 4.96 for patients and nurses, respectively. The subcategory with the highest mean score for both groups was knowledge and skills (4.73, 5.25), and the lowest for both groups was positive connectedness (3.98, 4.51). Nurses' scores were significantly higher than those of patients for all four subcategories (P < 0.001).


The gap between the two groups indicates that nurses need to improve their understanding and response to patients' actual and perceived needs and expectations. In China, patients require more support from nurses of their psychological needs.

Study Limitations

Participants came from a limited number of hospitals in three cities. A larger sample from different hospitals in mainland China could have increased the power of the study.