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Conflict between Nurses and patients on cultural differences

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Conflict between Nurses and Patients on Cultural Differences

Conflict between Nurses and Patients on Cultural Differences


Nurses and patients need an environment that embraces diversity and equality in order to improve the quality service offered. However, conflicts stemming from cultural differences can affect patient assessment, a nurse’s effectiveness in service delivery and the overall outcome of care given to the patient (Campinha-Bacote, 2011). This report provides findings on a conflict that emerged due to cultural differences in my workplace. It highlights how I solved the issue and its impact on my organization’s established processes.

Consultation process

Diversity in the health care sector requires nurses to ensure that they have cultural competence skills to handle a range of challenges in their practice (Vertino, 2014). One problem I encountered was dealing with a 17-year old Hispanic lady that had labour arrest for some hours in our facility. After consultations, right from the physician to the surgeon, it was agreed that she goes for a caesarian section delivery. However, the labour and delivery section was extremely busy, and I had to bring the standard surgical consent form to the patient in a room that consisted of members of her family. I insisted that she signs the consent form after giving her a pen. However, I realized that she and her family were uncomfortable. The patient declined to sign the form. According to their traditions, it is customary for a pregnant woman to involve their family when making decisions in medical and personal decisions. Women can only make such decisions when the community has approved.

After getting this vital information, the resident doctor and I explained to the family the need for a caesarean delivery. The family understood and asked the woman to sign the surgical consent form so that surgery could be performed. Obtaining such information is essential in improving cultural competence in nursing. Professional medical ethics requires that a patient’s information should be kept confidential (Van Keer et al., 2015). I called the senior members of the family to the physician’s office, together with the pregnant woman to guarantee confidentiality of the information.

Communication Process

Communication is a vital component in delivery care in a cross-cultural setting. According to Campinha-Bacote (2011), nurses need cultural skill when collecting relevant cultural information concerning a patient’s problem presentation. Achieving this skill requires effective communication. In this case, clear communication was critical to understanding the culturally sensitive issue involved (Vertino, 2014).

In my organization, we often have team building activities which consist of members from diverse societies. Through the teams, I was able to locate a Hispanic nurse who identified an interpreter among the family members. I also used my interpersonal communication skills to get the information that I needed from the family, for instance, my personality, the tone of my voice and presentation attributes were fundamental in the process.

Methods of Gaining Trust and Confidence

Nursing practice requires that nurses work in teams for optimal performance and delivery of care. Furthermore, working as a team ensures that one gains the trust and confidence of the fellow team members due to the existing cooperation (Bonall, 2010). Therefore, to solve the problem, I had to incorporate a team member who helped in building the family’s trust and confidence.

Network Built and Used

The building of an effective network allows nurses to gather information, especially in a diverse work environment. Such networks are critical in solving cultural sensitive problems that include cross- cultural communication when dealing with emergencies (Campinha-Bacote, 2011). In our facility, we work as a broad-based network of physicians, nurses, and other medical members to ensure that information is shared concerning how to deal with culturally sensitive issues.

From this problem, a key issue of concern was identified. We realized that there was the need to conduct cultural competence courses at all levels of the nursing structure in our facility. The lack of cultural competence is considered to be a significant barrier to effective communication amongst interdisciplinary teams, and sometimes, it can trickle down to patients and their families (Campinha-Bacote, 2011). For instance, nurses at different levels in the facility should understand the diverse cultural practices of minority groups. Such understanding can only be created through effective training and practice in the hospital. The increased global mobility of people has led to an ethnically diverse patient population, yet nurses still find it difficult to deal with this emerging population (Bonall, 2010).

Conflict Resolved and Methods Used

As demonstrated by the case, the conflict was resolved by bringing in a nurse who understood the Hispanic culture. The patient’s condition was critical, and a quick solution was required, a situation that necessitated negotiation (Hiemer, n.d). Therefore, we responded by collaborating and accommodating the customary practices of the family as much as we understood that consent should only be sought at an individual level.

Effective communication remains critical for nurses to manage conflicts (Vertino, 2014)). Therefore, I supported the proposal to have cultural training in my workplace. Again, through our collaboration, we started a cultural exchange project by creating a network of patients from minority groups who became friends to the hospital. The project has since improved our relationship with patients and understanding of different cultures.

Furthermore, the project has eased communication processes, especially when dealing with culturally diverse patients. The overall performance in the emergency department has improved since the project began.


Bonall, L., (2010). Universal principles for culturally sensitive care. Lippincott Nursing Centre.

Accessed on July 5, 2016 from http://www.nursingcenter.com/ncblog/september-2010/universal-principles-for-culturally-sensitive-care

Hiemer, A., (n.d). Conflict Resolution. RN Journal of Nursing. Accessed on July 5, 206 from


Campinha-Bacote, J., ( 2011) «Delivering Patient-Centered Care in the Midst of a Cultural

Conflict: The Role of Cultural Competence» OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in

Nursing Vol. 16, No. 2, Manuscript 5.

Van Keer, R., Deschepper, R., Francke, A.L, Huyghens, L. and Bilsen, J., (2015). Conflicts

between healthcare professionals and families of a multi-ethnic patient population during critical care: an ethnographic study. Accessed on July 5, 2016 from https://ccforum.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13054-015-1158-4

Vertino, K., (2014) «Effective Interpersonal Communication: A Practical Guide to Improve Your

Life» OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 19, No. 3, Manuscript 1.