1. Wong, Thomas K.S. RN, PhD
  2. Pang, Samantha M.C. RN, PhD


This article examines the concepts of holism and caring within the historical and cultural context of the development of nursing in China. Data were collected in two research projects on the cultural construction of caring in nursing within different Chinese communities. Grounded in the theory of "systematic correspondence" and in Chinese medical tradition, illness is perceived as a state of disharmony between the individual and the natural and social environment. The interplay of caring and curative processes is seen as pertinent to health maintenance. In Chinese culture, it is the moral duty of family members to take care of their sick. Because of this, questions are posed about ways in which the nurse can relate to patients and their family members. Although lay people view nursing as servant's work, nurses cherish "treating the patient as their own family member." The authors contend that these versions of nursing are inappropriate. It is the intention of this article to stimulate discourse on a third version focusing on the patient and the family as the unit of care within their dynamic, natural, and social environments.