About Swanson's Theory

Swanson's Theory is based on the research and practice of Dr. Kristen Swanson. Her focus primarily has been on pregnancy issues. The Swanson Theory of caring provides a platform to deal with miscarriage and the subsequent healing required for the parents and family. Her practices have been incorporated into obstetric education models and physician practices around the country, according to biographers at the University of Washington Medical Center.


Kristen Swanson was an affiliate professor and chair of the Family and Child Nursing program at the University of Washington Medical Center. Swanson also is a professor of Nursing Leadership and is a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Executive Fellow. In August 2009 Swanson became the sixth dean of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing 1.


Kristen Swanson received her nursing degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1975 and her master's degree in nursing in 1978 from the University of Pennsylvania. She went on to get a doctorate degree from the University of Colorado with an emphasis in Psychosocial Nursing. Her books, periodical and journal articles and lectures have been ongoing since the early 1980s.


Swanson's Theory takes the necessary steps to deal with miscarriages on all levels. Her studies have encompassed caring-based counseling techniques that serve the mothers and fathers and the dynamics between the two following a miscarriage. She incorporates techniques to deal with the sociocultural effects of the loss of a baby. Swanson's Theory goes beyond the physical aspects that health care practitioners consider to promote emotional healing from the effects of miscarriage and spontaneous abortion.


The Swanson Theory of Caring has five basic principles, according to the guide followed by nurses at Winter Haven Hospital in Florida 2. The five principles are knowing, being with, doing for, enabling/empowering and maintaining belief. According to Swanson, caregivers should do their best to know and understand what the famly is going through and be present to listen and not burden them with more than they can handle. They should do for the family what needs to be done and help facilitate their passage through the event. Finally, nurses who follow Swanson's theory of caring maintain the belief that the family can get through the crisis.

Expert Insight

Numerous hospitals and health care facilities have adopted Swanson's Theory of care as a guide to their own nursing services. For example, administrators at the Blessing Hospital in Illinois utilize the theories in order to fulfill their mission of providing the highest quality nursing care possible. They incorporate the philosophies of Swanson in order to achieve best practices among their staff.