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Larry Purnell’s Model for Cultural Competencies

Introduction to the Model

Purnell’s Model for Cultural Competences was developed at the end of the previous century by the professor Larry Purnell. While educating undergraduate students, he found out that nurses are to be aware of the ethno-cultural beliefs of patients and created a model that can be used in the organizing framework. The author created a range of questions that should be referred to when evaluating culture in clinical practice settings (Purnell, 2005).

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Purnell believed that following his model, professionals can develop cultural competence and adjust care so that it becomes consistent with the consumer’s culture. The model is depicted as a set of rings: society, community, family, and person. The last one consists of 12 cultural domains that are to be taken into consideration (“overview/heritage, communication, family roles and organization, workforce issues, biocultural ecology, high-risk behaviour, nutrition, pregnancy and childbearing practices, death rituals, spirituality, healthcare practices, healthcare practitioners”) (Ivanov & Blue, 2008).

Application of the Model in Nursing Practice

Being a nurse, I would definitely make use of Purnell’s Model for Cultural Competences. To my mind, it can help me in my working practice, providing an opportunity to communicate effectively and efficiently with my patients so that they do not feel abused. I believe that theoretical knowledge of this model can be advantageous because I will know what should be considered before maintaining any actions.

For example, I can refer to the literature to get to know more about cultural domains of particular populations. Thus, I will be prepared to work with the patient. If I lack some knowledge or is not familiar with some culture at all, I would question the consumer regarding the domains that are related to the particular situation (Lewin, 2009).

Clinical Scenario

Being a nurse, I need to work with diverse population. It may happen that one of my patients is a 54 years old Muslim from Egypt. She is rather religious and feels uncomfortable when interacting with male nurses. When she is in a poor condition, I am to administer the medication. In order to comfort her and ensure that I am ready to do my best to make her feel better, I will ask if she had some preferences in the way the treatment should be delivered. Like many other Muslims, she might tell me to give her a pill and a glass of water with my right hand (Hoskins, 2014). It will not take much time and will not be difficult for me, but my patient should feel more relaxed. As a result, she will be likely to tell me if her health condition alters instead of avoiding assistance.


Taking everything mentioned into consideration, it can be concluded that Purnell’s Model for Cultural Competences is mainly used by professionals to ensure culturally congruent care. It serves as a guideline for the nurses, providing them with the opportunity to pay attention to all critical cultural domains and avoid possible misunderstanding that can spoil decent relations between professional and patient.

It requires some time to remember Purnell’s Model, as it is rather extended and detailed. Still, it will help to make advantageous nursing decisions that deal with cultural care preservation, negotiation, and restructuring. Even though cultural competence is difficult to obtain, the discussed model can help to streamline this process. Thus, its utilization in nursing practice is likely to be extremely advantageous.

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Hoskins, T. (2014). A Muslim’s heart. Colorado Springs, CO: Tyndale House.

Ivanov, L. & Blue, C. (2008). Public health nursing: Policy, politics & practice. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning.

Lewin, R. (2009). The handbook of practice and research in study abroad. New York, NY: Routledge.

Purnell, L. (2005). Purnell’s Model for Cultural Competences. The Journal of Multicultural Nursing & Health, 11(2), 7-15.

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