JOURNAL ARTICLE

Professional and cultural conflicts for intensive care nurses

Sevald Høye, Elisabeth Severinsson
Journal of Advanced Nursing 2010, 66 (4): 858-67
20423373

AIM: This paper is a report of a study exploring intensive care nurses' experiences of conflicts related to practical situations when they encounter culturally diverse families of critically ill patients.

BACKGROUND: Conflicts can arise in critical care settings as a result of differing cultural and professional values. Nurses and families with diverse cultural backgrounds bring beliefs and understandings to the care situation that can have an impact on the care process. Such families are challenged in their efforts to maintain traditions, while some nurses are not sufficiently culturally aware. A limited number of studies have focused on such conflicts.

METHOD: Sixteen critical care nurses took part in multistage focus group interviews conducted from October 2005 to June 2006. The data were analysed using qualitative content analysis.

FINDINGS: The main theme, 'conflict between professional nursing practice and family cultural traditions', was based on three pairs of conflicting themes: 'culturally based need to participate actively in the care vs. nurses' professional perceptions of themselves as total care providers'; 'nurses' professional obligation to provide comprehensible information vs. culturally based communication difficulties and responses to illness'; and 'families' needs for cultural norms and self-determination vs. nurses' professional responsibility for the clinical environment'. In addition, each pair of themes contained several sub-themes.

CONCLUSION: Nurses need to negotiate with culturally diverse family members to address conflicts. In their encounters with such families, they should establish a balance between ethnocentricity and cultural sensitivity. An implication for practice is to increase nurses' competence in assessment of diversity.

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