Student nurses’ experiences of communication in cross-cultural care encounters

JIRWE, Maria, GERRISH, Kate and EMAMI, Azita (2010). Student nurses’ experiences of communication in cross-cultural care encounters. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 24 (3), 436-444.

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Aim. To explore student nurses’ experiences of communication in cross-cultural care encounters.

Background. Communication is a fundamental component of cross-cultural encounters. Nurses experience communication difficulties in situations where they do not speak the same language as their patients. Communication difficulties are a major obstacle for immigrant patients and can lead to insufficient information and poor quality nursing care in contrast to the majority population.

Methods. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken a purposive sample of 10 final year students from one university in Sweden: 5 participants were from a Swedish background and 5 from an immigrant background. Interviews explored participant’s experiences of communication in cross-cultural care encounters. Interviews were tape recorded, transcribed and analysed using ‘framework’ approach.

Results. Four themes were identified: conceptualising cross-cultural encounters, difficulties in communication, strategies employed, and factors influencing communication. ‘Culture’ was equated with country of origin. Cross cultural encounters involved patients from a different immigrant background to the nurse. Student nurses experienced particular difficulties communicating with patients with whom they did not share a common language. This led to care becoming mechanistic and impersonal. They were fearful of making mistakes and lacked skills and confidence in questioning patients. Various strategies were used to overcome communication barriers including the use of relatives to interpret, non-verbal communication, gestures and artifacts. Other factors which influenced communication included the student’s attitude, cultural knowledge acquired through education and life experience.

Conclusion. Although student nurses seek creative ways to communicate with patients from different cultural backgrounds they lack skills and confidence in cross-cultural communication. Nursing programmes need to address this deficit in order to ensure that nurses are equipped with the knowledge and skills to provide quality care to patients from different cultural backgrounds.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 436-444
Depositing User: Kate Gerrish
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2011 13:44
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 10:15

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