Research Paper: Using the Giger and Davidhizar’s Transcultural Assessment Model and How Cultural Sensitivity Can Influence Nursing Care

The profession of a nurse has always been one of the most emotionally rewording and at the same time emotionally hard professions. If one is to become a nurse he/she should be a person of a strong character, tender soul, and stable emotional constitution. When working with people one cannot develop a universal approach of dealing with them especially when it comes to working with people who are sick, or are struggling with overcoming the effects of the survived illness.

Thus, nurses have to find a unique approach to every particular patient in order to make his/her experience of receiving medical treatment as smooth as possible. Today in the global world nurses must also take into consideration the cultural background differences of the patients. In my paper I would like to cover the question of cultural sensitivity in relation to nurse treatment. To assess this question I would like to use Giger and Davidhizar’s transcultural assessment model, because it acknowledges the uniqueness of every culture.

To begin with, I would like to mention that the American Nurses Association states that cultural diversity of patients means the differences between people based on a shared ideology and valued set of beliefs, rules, norms, customs in a way of living (p. 1). Even several decades ago the medical treatment sector did not consider cultural factors to be of importance to their filed, however now it is understood and this point of view can be applied only if caregivers and the patients share same cultural beliefs. While, it is absolutely inadequate when the above parties are coming from different cultural backgrounds (Buus-Frank, 1999, p.3). Furthermore, cultural clashes occur even in cases when care-givers and care-receivers share cultural norms and rules, this is so because even though all people share a general set of problems, there are many problems that only some individuals encounter or those that are found to be more difficult by some individuals and not by others.

Giger and Davidhizar’s transcultural assessment model suggested in 1995 states that all cultural groups possess six common phenomena: communication, spatial boundaries, social orientation, time, environmental control and biologic variations, additionally within each of the six phenomenon there are variables that relate to them. As a consequence, in case a nurse is willing to assess the phenomenon of communication this analysis would include: „the language spoken, the quality of the voice, the client’s pronunciation and enunciation, how the individual utilizes silence, and the individual’s nonverbal communication techniques“(Giger & Davidhizar, 1995). Without a shadow of doubt, all of us possess these variables, though we relate to them differently because of differences in our cultures. It has to be understood that the discussed model does not assume that different cultures can be stereotypes and a manual of behavior nurses should follow can be created. This is so because even members of the same cultural groups, though sharing main values in common differ greatly from one another in the way they perceive problems.

The value of the above model can be proved by several examples. For example if an American nurse has to take care of a person with Russian or any other Slavic background she has to remember that communication patterns are very different within the members of this group. This implies that while in America, the question „How are you?“ is often used is a mere ice-breaking line in the conversation that does not require a response, in Slavic cultures this is different. Thus, a nurse has to remember that once she inquires of the way a person of Slavic origin is doing he/she would get an idea that the nurse is indeed interested in the patient’s state and would provide a detailed response to the question. The same, in fact, would be expected to be done by the nurse, while if she/she responds to the question briefly it may lead to the misunderstanding.

Another example can be the assessment of a patient dealing with grief. Let us imagine that an African American woman is delivered to the hospital and gives birth to a child that shortly after dies. Surely, any professional nurse would try to comfort the grieving patient in the best possible way. It is obvious that a woman surviving this kind of trauma in addition to being rather fragile and sensitive because of recent pregnancy might close down and be unwilling to cooperate with medical stuff. Though, in our case, the race of the patient may also be one of the barriers on the way of successful communication if the doctors and the nurse herself are White Caucasian. Because of the long history of racial problems it is possible that an African American woman would choose not to open up with white doctors, thinking that it is partly their fault that her baby died. Of course, such judgments are unreasonable, though when a woman is in such a sensitive state her fear often overrule the common sense. Having assessed this situation doctors may choose to send an African American nurse to the birth mother, because this might make the rehabilitation of the woman easier. The need of such assessment especially when it comes to grief management, had been identifies by Cowles in 1996 (p. 293).

In conclusion, I would like to say that use Giger and Davidhizar’s (1995) transcultural assessment model enables health care personnel especially nurses to provide high class sensitive health care to the patients that are in need of it. The above essay has shown that this model is significant in the healthcare sector, though I believe that this model can also be efficiently used in other disciplines. This is so because diversity exists in all the sectors, members of which are often not less volatile than those requiring health care.


  1. American Nurses Association (1991, October). Position statement on: Cultural diversity in nursing practice. Washington, DC: Author.
  2. Buus-Frank, M. E. (1999). When cultures clash. The Clinical Letter for Nurse Practitioners, 3 (1), 1.
  3. Cowles, K. V. (1996). Cultural perspectives of grief: An expanded concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing 23, 293
  4. Giger, J. N., & Davidhizar, R. E. (1995). Transcultural nursing: Assessment and intervention (2nd ed.). St. Louis: Mosby.