Cultural caring in nursing practice: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research

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Date: Fall 2004
From: Journal of Cultural Diversity(Vol. 11, Issue 3)
Publisher: Tucker Publications, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 6,071 words

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Abstract: The number of qualitative studies regarding the experience of nurses caring for patients from cultures other than their own has increased, yet there remains a limited understanding of the meanings derived from this work. Using the methodology of Noblit and Hare's meta-ethnographic comparative method, the main themes and concepts from 13 qualitative studies are reduced to six overall themes that describe over 1,000 nurses' experience caring for patients from other cultures. The themes include: (a) connecting with the client, (b) cultural discovery, (c) the patient in context, (d) in their world, not mine, (e) road blocks, and (f) the cultural lens.

Keywords: Nursing Practice, Cultural Caring, Meta-Synthesis Qualitative Research


Minority populations continue to grow at an unprecedented rate in the U.S. The Hispanic population is the fastest growing minority with over 35.3 million (12.5%) persons residing in the U.S. This largely Spanish speaking group as become the majority minority as of the year 2000 census. The African American population is slightly less than the Hispanic population at 34.6 million persons or 12.3%. In addition, there are 10 million Asian Americans or about 3.6% of the total U.S. population and 2.4 million American Indians that comprise 0.9% of the population (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2002).

While the U.S. population has become increasingly diverse, nurses have remained a homogeneous group. Approximately 90% of all Registered Nurses are Caucasian; 4.2% are African American; 3.4% are Asian or Pacific Islander; and 1.6% are Hispanic (Minority Nursing Statistics, 2001). The only nurse population that mirrors the U.S. population is Asian American. The degree of uniformity of nurses compared to the U.S. population begs the question: Are we prepared to care for the increasingly multicultural patient?

Definition and purpose

According to Leininger, culture is a process of "learned, shared, and transmitted values, beliefs, norms, and life practices of a particular group that guides thinking, decisions and actions in patterned ways" (1988, p. 156). This article focuses on the experience of providing care to patients from other cultures. More specifically, other cultures refers to the experience of health care providers caring fro a patient from a culture that is perceived as different than their own. This may include the patient having a different language, ethnicity, religion or any other life practice.

As society becomes increasingly diverse, transcultural care has become an important aspect of health care. The need for clinicians to become more sensitive to cultural differences and gain an understanding of transcultural concepts has been repeatedly stressed by Leininger (1988)who stated the use of transcultural care knowledge is essential for accurate, reliable health care" (p. 159). As the health care community recognizes the need for increased cultural understanding, the number of qualitative studies regarding the experience of clinicians caring for different cultural groups has increased. Though there is increased interest and research, there remains a limited understanding of the meanings derived from this work since the work that has been done has not been summarized in a meaningful way. To further the applicability of...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A125337671