Creating cross-racial primary care relationships in a nurse-managed center

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Date: Fall 2004
From: Journal of Cultural Diversity(Vol. 11, Issue 3)
Publisher: Tucker Publications, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 8,836 words

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Abstract: Culturally incompetent communication patterns with providers influence the health disparities of African Americans. Limited knowledge exists on cross-racial nurse practitioner nurse-patient relationships (NP-NPRs). The purpose of this paper is to describe how NPs and patients in cross-racial relationships developed primary care relationships in one nurse managed center (NMC).

A qualitative design incorporated a social constructivist paradigm and the methodology of Interpretive Interactionism. Twenty cross-racial NP-patient dyads (White NPs and Black patients)participated in individual 1 to 3-hour audiotaped interviews regarding their ongoing relationships and the impact of the NMC.

The analysis uncovered a rich description of the relationship processes from the initial meeting to its current state. Multiple themes for each phase, as well as, four typologies of primary care cross-racial NP-NPRs are described.

Significant relationship work was needed by both partners to overcome communication misunderstandings, contextual aspects of cross-racial interactions and other overt and covert perceptions.

Key Words: Cross-Cultural, Primary Care Relationships, Nurse-Managed Center


Racial and ethnic biases have been implicated as a factor in the health disparities of persons of color (Smedley, Stith, & Nelson, 2002). Racial biases are critical to understanding community-based primary care because mutual patient-provider decision-making and planning are dependent on a complex interactive process that is hampered by these biases (van Ryn & Burke, 2000). Numerous studies have suggested that racial differences influence communication resulting in inadequate diagnostic testing (Canto, Allison, & Kiefe, 2000), miscommunications about etiologies, insufficient treatment plans (Abreu, 1999) and discounting of patient's ideas (Helms & Cook, 1999). Most studies focus on physician providers. Yet, nurse practitioners (NPs) and patients from diverse backgrounds have created relationships in primary care for over 30 years. Despite the considerable research about NPs, few studies focus on the nurse practitioner-nurse patient relationships (NP-NPRs) (Fisher, 1995; Johnson, 1993) and none were found that provide an understanding of cross-racial relationships.

Cross-racial communication during primary care NP-NPRs in a nurse-managed center (NMC) has received little to no attention. Assumptions about care in NMCs are based on the work of non-NP nurses (Morse, DeLuca-Havens, & Wilson, 1997), nursing philosophical tenets (Lowenberg, 1994) and studies of NPs in other settings (Brykczynski, 1989). Few studies have explored the perspectives of patients (Scott & Moneyham, 1995), and no study described the perspectives of persons of color. The purpose of the present study was to reconstruct the process of cross-racial primary care relationships between African American patients' and White nurse practitioners from one urban nurse-managed center.


The NP profession has focused most of its research toward professional validation (Bullough, 1995), instead of discovering the source of their successes. Seminal qualitative studies have reported that NPs creatively develop the NP-NPR utilizing a variety of contextually complex relationship skills (Brykczynski, 1989; Fisher, 1995; Johnson, 1993). These researchers argued that to fully understand NP care, and consequently their NP-NPRs, the care must be studied in context and with more depth about the participants and the relationships. Although NPs have been found to excel in nurse-patient interactions, the patients in these studies have been predominately White...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A125337670