Aims. The aims of the study were to develop an understanding of caring in nursing from the perspective of cancer patients and attempt to identify the concept of caring in the Chinese cultural context.
Background. Caring as a concept remains elusive, the acceptable definitions of the term care have not been reached. The expressions, processes and patterns of caring vary among cultures, but there is a lack of Chinese culture-based study about caring in nursing.
Methods. A qualitative research design was used and 20 cancer patients were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. A qualitative content analysis was used to identify themes in the data.
Results. Three themes emerged from the data, which suggested that caring is delivering care in an holistic way: nurses’ caring attitudes and their professional responsibility for providing emotional support, nurses’ professional knowledge and their professional responsibility for providing informational support and nurses’ professional skills and their professional responsibility for providing practical support. The caring behaviour of nurses as perceived by cancer patients involved the provision of emotional, informational, and practical support and help based on patients’ needs. A model of caring in nursing was formulated.
Conclusions. Caring in nursing as perceived by cancer patients involves nurses having qualified professional knowledge, attitudes and skills in oncology and providing the informational, emotional and practical supports and help required by cancer patients.
Relevance to clinical practice. Caring is manifested in nursing actions through nurse–patient communication process. Patients have their inner expectation for nurses’ caring behaviour and attitudes and nurses’ performance of caring or uncaring behaviour has a direct influence on the feelings of patients. It is necessary for all nurses to continue improving their oncology professional knowledge, attitudes and skills as well as their abilities of offering informational, emotional and practical support and help for their cancer patients.