Intensive care nurses' encounters with multicultural families in Norway: an exploratory study

Sevald Høye, Elisabeth Severinsson
Intensive & Critical Care Nursing: the Official Journal of the British Association of Critical Care Nurses 2008, 24 (6): 338-48
The aim of this study was to explore nurses' perceptions of their encounters with multicultural families in intensive care units in Norwegian hospitals. Immigrants from non-Western countries make up 6.1% of the population in Norway. When a person suffers an acute and critical illness the person's family may experience crises. Nurses' previous experiences of caring for culturally diverse patients and families is challenging due to linguistic differences, and contextual factors. Family members should be near their critically ill spouse to reduce the impact from a frightening environment. The study had a descriptive exploratory qualitative design with a retrospective focus. Three multistage focus groups consisting of 16 nurses were set up in intensive care units. The data were analysed by interpretive content analysis. The theme 'Cultural diversity and workplace stressors' emerged. This theme was characterised by four categories: 'impact on work patterns'; 'communication challenges'; 'responses to crises' and 'professional status and gender issues'. In conclusion, nurses' perception of their encounters with multicultural families in intensive care units seem to be ambiguous with challenges in interaction, and the nurses' stressors emanating from linguistic, cultural and ethnic differentness. To diminish cultural diversity the nurses strive for increased knowledge of different cultures and religions.

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