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Transcultural nursing is an academic sub-discipline within the field of nursing. People involved in nursing education are especially interested in the topic since they are responsible for training nurses who may practice on people from different cultures. Transcultural interaction in nursing presents many challenges of communication and understanding. Ethical issues regarding the care of patients from a different background can also arise.
As an area of academic study, transcultural nursing has a theoretical basis in anthropology and sociology combined with the scientific research of the medical field. It is a goal-oriented discipline. Researchers aim to help prepare nurses to practice appropriately and respectfully on people from cultures other than their own, especially on patients from a minority culture. The method supporting this is education about cultural differences and training in communicating across a divide of language, values, and life experience. Empirical research is used to identify shortcomings and areas of improvement, and to test hypotheses about what methods are most efficient in solving those shortcomings.
The scholar and nurse Madeleine Leininger is credited with the advent of this field. After completed her doctoral studies in anthropology, Leininger became concerned that nurses treating patients from different cultures may be failing adequately to fulfill their duty of caring. In 1955 she began publishing books and academic articles on the issues, marking the beginning of transcultural nursing studies.