Nurse’s Role in Working with
Clients of Various Cultures
To provide culturally competent care, the nurse must find out as
much as possible about a client’s cultural values, beliefs, and health
practices. Often, the client is the best source for that information, so the
nurse must ask the client what is important to him or her—for instance, “How
would you like to be cared for?” or “What do you expect (or want) me to do for
you?” (Andrews & Boyle, 2007). she knows about a client’s particular
cultural group such as preferences for greeting, eye contact, and physical
distance. Based on the client’s behavior, the nurse can alter that approach as
needed. For example, if a client from a culture that does not usually shake
hands offers the nurse his or her hand, the nurse should return the handshake.
Variation among members of the same cultural group is wide, and the nurse must
remain alert for these individual differences.
A client’s health practices and religious beliefs are other
important areas to assess. The nurse can ask, “Do you fol-low any dietary
preferences or restrictions?” and “How can I assist you in practicing your
religious or spiritual beliefs?” The nurse also can gain an understanding of
the client’s health and illness beliefs by asking, “How do you think this
health problem came about?” and “What kinds of remedies have you tried at
An open and objective approach to the client is essen-tial. Clients
will be more likely to share personal and cul-tural information if the nurse is
genuinely interested in knowing and does not appear skeptical or judgmental.
The nurse should ask these same questions even to clients from his or her own
cultural background. Again, people in a cultural group vary widely, so the
nurse should not assume that he or she knows what a client believes or
practices just because the nurse shares the same culture.