Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Chad D. Ellett


The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the construct of caring in the helping professions and to develop an instrument to measure the affective component of caring in the specific context of professional nursing. The study involved development of a conceptual framework for the construct of caring, instrument development, and examination of validity evidence using multiple criteria. The sample for this study included 421 registered nurses employed in randomly selected acute care settings. Each participant completed the Caring Inventory for Nurses (CI-N) which included 40 items representing four hypothesized dimensions: receptivity, responsivity, moral/ethical consciousness and professional commitment. Seven instruments were used to examine criterion-related validity of the CI-N. These included the Caring Ability Inventory (Nkongho, 1990), the Client Perceptions of Caring Scale (McDaniel, 1990); Questionnaire Measure of Emotional Empathy (Mehrabian & Epstein, 1972); the Commitment Scale (Alutto, Hrebiniak, & Alonso, 1973); the Nurturance and Aggression scales of the Personality Research Form (Jackson, 1974); and the Short-Form of the Rokeach Dogmatism Scale (Troldahl & Powell, 1965). The results of the factor analyses suggested that a four-factor solution best represented the data. This solution accounted for 39.5% of the variance in the data. A total of 31 items were retained. Alpha reliabilities for the subscales ranged from.57 to.79 and test-retest stability coefficients ranged from.60 to.81. Criterion measures were significantly correlated (p $<$.01) with subscales of the CI-N. Significant differences (p $<$.001) were found between peer-designated individuals high in caring and those not designated as such by peers. Correlations between subscales of the CI-N and mean scores from client perceptions of caring by the nurse were also significant for two the responsivity $(r=.80;\ p<.01)$ and professional commitment $(r=.41;\ p<.05)$ subscales. The results of this study provide evidence that caring is a multidimensional construct and findings support the relationships hypothesized between subscales and constructs conceived to be a part of the nomological network of caring. The relationship between caring affect and caring behavior is supported through peer judgments and client perceptions. Implications for theory development and methodological considerations are also discussed.