Customer Review

January 17, 2005
Though described as a "pocket guide," one would need generous pockets to contain this quick reference book aimed at assisting nurses to provide culturally competent healthcare in everyday situations. Culture & Nursing Care contains profiles of over 20 ethnic groups whose numbers and cultural perspectives on healing may make caring for them problematical for nurses.

The book is organized and laid out conveniently and consistently. Each ethnic group is dealt with in a similar structure, making information easy to find and read. Cultural and ethnic identity are discussed, and the preferred names and ways of describing each group are offered along with historical information and geographical references.

Next, sections on communication include not only information about language, literacy, interpretation and do's and don'ts of communicating with individuals and groups, but also touch on specific cultural factors in the group's behavior that would affect interactions in the medical setting. Further sections include activities of daily living, food practices, symptom management and descriptions of the critical rituals surrounding transitions like birth and death. Family relationships and spiritual orientation discussed, in addition to details about the all-important illness beliefs and health practices common to the group.

In addition to these ethnic profiles, an appendix on "Diversity Among Spiritual and Religious Beliefs" profiles each belief system and points to specific factors that affect the believer's approach to health and life transitions, spiritual care during illness, dietary regulations and the group's expectations of caregivers. Other appendices provide hard demographic data on the populations presented, along with selected maps. Unfortunately, in today's geographically challenged USA many users may not be able to connect a group with its homeland by simply looking at a map.

Culture & Nursing Care is obviously a good starting point for culture awareness on the part of students, nurses and other healthcare workers and a manual worth having on hand at intake facilities and nursing stations. However, with the exception of major urban centers, it is likely that professionals will need in-depth awareness and knowledge of certain ethnic groups, while rarely encountering others. Perhaps familiarity and use of the current book would facilitate interest and energy for the development of more extensive on-site information resources as the local population dictates. The editors have chosen contributors with close knowledge of and identification to the groups presented. Each profile contains a picture and short bio of the contributor along with further references to information about the group discussed that could be resources for more in-depth development.

In addition to nurses, this book can initiate doctors and administrators, as well as psychologists and counselors into the realities of healthcare diversity. Trainers might do well to peruse it in preparing human resource professionals and others involved in personnel management to recognize this dimension of difference.
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