Madeleine Leininger Cultural Care Theory

Topic: Healthcare Research
Words: 735 Pages: 3

The culture or cultural care theory is a system of care formulated by Madeleine Leininger after her experience as a medical professional in villages in New Guinea. Leininger continued to develop varied models for healthcare professionals regarding approaches to patients of different cultures when she returned to the University of Washington where she was a professor of nursing and a lecturer. The system proposed by Leininger when summarized establishes that the nurse and patient or client may collectively design a caring lifestyle for the patient’s wellbeing with regard to nuances of their culture or background (American Sentinel College, 2020). The theory is built on four general components, care, caring, culture, and cultural care diversity. Care corresponds to the principle of assisting those with needs while caring is the action that is responsible for providing care. Culture, defined as a learned and shared collection of values, norms, beliefs, and lifestyles, is the primary driver of the ways in which individuals or groups act or think (McFarland & Wehbe-Alamah, 2019). Culture care diversity refers to various types of care which are adequate for diverse groups of patients.

Cultural competence is established through a number of practices within the scope of healthcare. These include cultural awareness, knowledge, skills, encounters, and desire for learning (Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2020). Within a practical implementation, these skills can manifest as having clear communication channels with patients, interactions free of judgment or prejudice, empathizing with the patient, and valuing the individuality and strengths of the patients and even colleagues. To some extent, cultural competence is ingrained in all areas of healthcare and is vital to the process of treatment and intervention. Cultural competence allows patients to receive satisfactory care and have positive interactions with healthcare professionals. Studies have shown that cultural competence training has benefits not only for the patient’s wellbeing and welfare while being treated, but for the self-awareness of medical staff as well. The evidence found that exposure to cultural competence training had the largest positive effect on nurse-patient communication (Kaihlanen et al., 2019). The ability to effectively communicate with patients and allow them a safe space to receive treatment has a direct effect on the increase of the quality of care.

I find that trust is a fundamental element of the relationship between a nurse and their patient. Trust is often reliant on effective communication and the feeling of being understood and not judged. As such, the incorporation of cultural care theory is essential in my practice as an advanced practice nurse. I will personally focus on establishing the most acceptable communication methods when interacting with patients of diverse backgrounds. In the case that communication is hundred, it is essential to consider whether a lack of understanding of the patient’s culture on the behalf of the nurse may be the core of the issue. Similarly, exhibiting tolerance and terminating prejudices will be vital in establishing an understanding of the patient’s values, needs, and concerns.

Aspects of culture such as religion or tradition may be in direct contradiction with certain medical practices. As such, it is the role of healthcare professionals to communicate with patients regarding concerns and limitations of medical intervention. Such an issue would highlight the need for nurses and other health professionals to be capable of designing and providing alternate treatment methods that would align with the patient’s values and cultural needs. Because the cultural care theory prioritizes providing care to those in need without disregarding their cultural background, this approach is vital to administering adequate medical care. This method can have a number of benefits, as it provides patients with options and choices in the interventions they will be given. Additionally, it establishes trust and understanding between the medical staff and the patient.

The use of cultural competencies has direct benefits for any process of healthcare. Cultural knowledge provides nurses with adequate information and increases preparedness. Cultural skills provide nurses with tools to collect relevant data and utilize it in a meaningful manner. Cultural encounters provide nurses with experiences and allow them to learn in a practical setting. Cultural awareness allows for reflection, whether it is the recollection of acquired knowledge or acknowledging prejudices. The desire to learn is vital in all aspects of medical practice and is similarly vital for pursuing adequate cultural care. As such, cultural competencies increase the culture-specific skills of nurses as well as their capabilities as communicators and rational thinkers.


American Sentinel College. (2020). Madeleine Leininger: Founder of culture care theory. The Sentinel Watch. Web.

Chicago School of Professional Psychology. (2020). The importance of cultural competence in nursing. The Chicago School. Web.

Kaihlanen, A., Hietapakka, L., & Heponiemi, T. (2019). Increasing cultural awareness: a qualitative study of nurses’ perceptions about cultural competence training. BMC Nursing, 18(1). Web.

McFarland, M. R., & Wehbe-Alamah, H. B. (2019). Leininger’s theory of culture care diversity and universality: An overview with a historical retrospective and a view toward the future. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 30(6), 540-557. Web.

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