Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo
Population Health for Nurses

22.1 What Is Transcultural Nursing?

Population Health for Nurses22.1 What Is Transcultural Nursing?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you should be able to:

  • 22.1.1 Define transcultural nursing.
  • 22.1.2 Discuss the importance of transcultural models and frameworks to nursing practice.

Transcultural nursing is a concept that has emerged in response to the increasing diversity of clients in health care settings. It is a framework that seeks to provide culturally sensitive care to individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Transcultural nursing recognizes that culture significantly shapes an individual’s health beliefs, behaviors, and practices. Therefore, it emphasizes the importance of understanding and respecting cultural differences in health care delivery.

Transcultural nursing has its roots in the mid-1950s, when nursing pioneer Hildegard Peplau began considering the importance of culture as a variable affecting mental health (Hagerty et al., 2017). During this same time period, nurse and anthropologist Madeleine Leininger, widely recognized as the founder of the field, began developing a concept she defined as “a comparative study and analysis of different cultures and subcultures in the world with respect to their caring behaviors, values, and beliefs about health, illness, and death” (Alligood, 2014; The Madeleine M. Leininger Collection, 1953-1995). Leininger worked with Native American communities in the United States, observing the importance of cultural beliefs and practices in health care delivery. She established the first transcultural nursing program at the University of Colorado in 1974 to train nurses to provide culturally sensitive care to clients from diverse backgrounds (The Madeleine M. Leininger Collection, 1953-1995).

According to Leininger’s model, transcultural nursing can be applied at all levels of health care institutions. With the ever-increasing multicultural population in the United States, nurses increasingly encounter clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. These clients may have different beliefs about health and illness, attitudes toward health care providers, and expectations for their care. Without an understanding of these cultural differences, nurses may struggle to provide effective care that meets the needs of their clients.

Cultural competence in health care has been shown to positively impact public health outcomes (Jongen et al., 2018). Cultural competence training can include a range of practices, such as understanding the central role of culture in lives and how it shapes behavior, respect, and acceptance of cultural differences, learning to effectively utilize culturally adapted and culturally specific practices, and continuous development of one’s awareness of personal cultural influences. Gopalkrishnan (2019) discusses the importance of cultural competence in addressing the possible negative impacts on different cultural groups of intercultural interactions—interactions between individuals from different cultural backgrounds—such as discrimination and marginalization. The skills and frameworks to manage these issues are necessary to promote public health and address health disparities among diverse client populations (Gopalkrishnan, 2019). See Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Nursing Care for more information on this topic.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Apr 26, 2024 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.