Madeliene Leininger-Transcultural Theory

Madeliene Leininger- Transcultural Theory

Among the many theories that have evolved within the nursing field, Transcultural Theory, developed by Dr. Madeliene Leininger has made an everlasting impression upon the mindsets of the current nursing profession. Transcultural nursing was defined as

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 “a humanistic and scientific area of formal study and practice in nursing which is focused upon differences and similarities among cultures with respect to human care, health, and illness based upon the people’s cultural values, beliefs, and practices, and to use this knowledge to provide cultural specific or culturally congruent nursing care to people” (Fernandez, 2001).

Transcultural nursing derives more on the holistic standpoint of nursing rather the biological view. This theory maintains certain ideas that are targeted to the patient’s emotional and spiritual background as oppose to the medical observations of the individual. The patient’s is emotions are taken into better consideration when asserting the following skills: basic knowledge of diverse cultures, sensitive attitude toward their beliefs, and the understanding of the patient’s ethnic background (Jarvis, 2008).

            Dr. Madeliene Leininger is known for her advocacy in nursing anthropology. Dr. Leininger was appointed dean for the University of Washington Nursing School in 1969, and was given the opportunity to travel to New Guinea, where she obtained her knowledge of diverse cultures and customs in regards to healthcare (Swingshift, 2008). Her assets to the nursing field are of daily appreciation. Dr. Leininger was able to connect to the patient using their personal beliefs, thus gaining their complete trust within the patient evaluation and assessment. Transcultural Theory creates an open mindset for the nurse, allowing not only improvement for the patient-nurse relationship, but also for the nurse’s professional career in patient care.

Despite the theories contributions, there are also limitations. For instance, the overwhelming number of diverse cultures in the United States, which prohibits the nurse’s ability to assess each ethnicity using their personal health care practices. Also, there is a lack of education and time for the nurse to compensate all the cultural needs for the patient (Fawcett, 2002). The nurse can be compassionate to the individual’s she treats, but cannot justify all the critical points of the Transcultural theory.

            The nursing theory can be applied by delivering the correct procedures to the patient within the hospital setting. For example, limiting the amount of affection towards the patient in regards to their religious beliefs and natural customs (Jarvis, 2008). There should also be a degree of restraint in how much input the nurse gives in regards to the treatment of the patient (Jarvis, 2008). The patient might have other ways of practicing healing and might feel offended with the nurse’s routine.

            Based on my core beliefs, I am confident in the ideas of Dr. Leininger’s Transcultural Theory. Coming from a different culture myself, I believe that is very important for the nurse to maintain some knowledge about the type of care they would be giving the patient. I believe in supernatural healing, therefore, I agree with the Transcultural Theory when it states that the nurse should “respect the patient’s beliefs rather than assume that her professional opinions are always accurate (Fernandez, 2002).” Having a nurse who is willing to compromise some of her beliefs for her patient, show’s how much commitment is actually present in regards to the patient. I feel that nursing is a surrendering of self for others, and I believe that Dr. Leininger’s theory is guide for nurses to understand comprising techniques for the patient. With a total outlook about the patient’s culture and natural habits, the nurse will have a better performance both in and out of her professional setting.


Fawcett, Jack (2002). The Nurse Theorist: 21-Century Updates [Electronic version]. Nursing Science Quarterly,131-136.

Fernandez, Kathy (2001). Transcultural Nursing: Basic Concepts & Case Studies. Retrieved July 23, 2008 from

Jarvis, C. (2008). Physical examination & health assessment (5th ed). (p38, 43). St. Louis, MO: Saunders.


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