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Leininger’s Theory in Undergraduate Nursing Studies


The nursing theory provides nurses with the necessary frameworks that allow them to provide high-quality healthcare services. These theories address various aspects of contemporary nursing (Alligood, 2014). For instance, they equip nursing professionals with approaches to the provision of health services associated with particular clinical procedures, psychological support, social aspects, and so on. Leininger’s theory is one of the paradigms that focus on the essence of care and the role of the cultural background (Giger, 2016). This paper dwells upon this theory and its importance. The paper includes sections concerning the importance of nursing theory, major features of Leininger’s theory as well as its application to specific professional nursing practice.

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Importance of Nursing Theory

It is necessary to note that some people focus on practical skills in nursing rather than nursing theories. They think that an effective nurse should be able to carry out a number of clinical procedures, which makes the knowledge of theories rather irrelevant. Nonetheless, the way clinical procedures are implemented as well as the way health services are delivered, is often shaped by the approach the nurse utilizes (Alligood, 2014). These approaches have been described by practitioners who created relevant theoretical frameworks that could be used for the development of the knowledge base in the field. In simple terms, theories can be regarded as a refined experience of thousands of practitioners.

Clearly, nursing theories should be a part of the curriculum in medical school, especially when it comes to postgraduate courses. Nurses with the Master’s degree should be aware of the variety of strategies and approaches to the delivery of care (Prosen, 2015). It is insufficient to know how to perform a set of clinical procedures, but it is vital to know various ways to deliver high-quality care that address all the aspects of health (physical, psychological, spiritual, social, and so on). Nursing theories also separate the nursing profession from other healthcare professions as they describe the principles and the major focus of nursing (which is care). Importantly, nursing theories have always been patient-centered as these healthcare professionals have been the hub between the hospital and the patient and their relatives (Alligood, 2014).

It is necessary to note that there are some concerns regarding the utilization of nursing theories in practice. One of these is the difficulty in translating theory to a particular context (Giger, 2016). Nurses have to work in diverse clinical settings with different stakeholders. Peculiarities of the community, staffing, and so on affect the way healthcare services are delivered. Therefore, some theories can be difficult to adjust to a particular situation, patient, healthcare facility, or community. Thus, nursing professionals have to choose a more suitable theoretical framework or adjust a theory, which is often associated with the development of a new one.

Summary of Leininger’s Theory

The nursing theory to be discussed is Madeleine Leininger’s Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality that was first published in 1991 (McFarland, 2014). The latest edition of this theoretical framework dates back to 2006. The central concept of the theory is care that is seen as “the essence of the nursing and the dominant, distinctive, and unifying feature of nursing” (McFarland, 2014, p. 423). The theorist also stresses that cultural care is an important element of care since people are living in a multicultural world. Leininger claims that cultural care enables nursing professionals to provide high-quality health services to patients whose major needs are met. On the contrary, the renowned nurse emphasizes that the inability to provide cultural care can lead to patients’ dissatisfaction, undesirable health outcomes, the occurrence of moral and ethical concerns, and so on. The theorist states that the provision of cultural care is possible through proper communication and transcultural competence of nursing practitioners. Thus, formal, as well as on-the-job, education is seen as critical since future nurses (especially those holding a degree) should understand cultural peculiarities, trends existing in the society as well as theoretical paradigms to employ in their practice. Therefore, Leininger believes that transcultural care theory should be a part of the curriculum in medical schools.

It is necessary to note that Leininger’s theory addresses such metaparadigms as the person, health, environment, nursing profession. As for the first concept, the person, the theory in question, provides practitioners with a comprehensive approach to developing relationships with other stakeholders. According to this theory, people are characterized by various beliefs and biases that shape their behavior and decision-making. Importantly, the theory allows the stakeholders to create bridges and overcome various difficulties associated with cultural differences.

As far as the concept of health is concerned, the theory also includes various points that can help nursing professionals. According to this theory, culture is one of the elements that contribute to or even constitutes people’s physical wellbeing (Douglass et al., 2014). It has been acknowledged that people’s emotional and psychological states affect their physical health. Clearly, nurses’ ability to make patients’ feel comfortable in the clinical setting affects their health and the overall healing process.

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The theory under consideration addresses the metaparadigm of the environment through the provision of approaches to the development of proper relationships between the stakeholders as well as the entire community. Nurses often become the changing agents of various trends existing in a community. Clearly, the provision of transcultural health services will make patients of different backgrounds more empowered and prepared to collaborate in transcultural contexts in and outside the healthcare facility (Douglass et al., 2014).

Finally, the theory contributes to the development of the nursing profession as it equips nurses with important skills associated with communication and collaboration. Nurses provide transcultural health services that are characterized by attention to the cultural peculiarities of patients, negotiation, and empathy (McFarland, 2014). Nursing professionals are able to deliver high-quality care.

It is noteworthy that this comprehensiveness is the reason for choosing Leininger’s theory. The theoretical approach has been chosen as it addresses one of the most burning issues. Nurses are often culturally incompetent, which results in low-quality healthcare services, patients’ dissatisfaction, and even hostility as well as nursing practitioners’ overload as they often have to do many superfluous tasks. Being a transcultural nurse should be the goal of the contemporary nursing professional (or student).


Leininger’s theory can be applied in the domain of undergraduate education. As has been mentioned above, Leininger stresses that education is the backbone of transcultural nursing. According to the theory, undergraduate students should acquire knowledge concerning different cultures as well as strategies to address cultural differences. At that, on-job training is also an important element of education.

Being a nursing professional, I have acknowledged the benefits of transcultural competence training provided in our healthcare facility. Nurses in our community (including me) have to work with diverse cultural groups of patients, which can often be hard. Linguistic issues are only a part of the problem. At that, I understood that even simple tips concerning certain cultures and communication conventions could help a nursing practitioner to work more effectively. I attended the training and became more competent in working with Asian patients, which enables me to communicate with these people in an efficient way. Another example I would like to share is associated with my collaboration with other professionals. One of my colleagues holds a Master’s degree, and she has helped me a lot with cultural issues as well. I acknowledged the value of undergraduate education as it equips future nursing with the most relevant skills and knowledge (including transcultural nursing).


To sum up, it is necessary to note that Leininger’s theory is one of the most relevant nursing theoretical paradigms as it addresses the issues related to culture. The theory identifies the role culture plays in the nursing practice. More importantly, the theory includes particular approaches to addressing cultural issues. These can be regarded as tips and guidance that can be applied in the clinical setting. Transcultural nurses are able to deliver care in a more efficient way as they understand patients’ needs and are able to negotiate the use of various clinical procedures.

This assignment is a way to explore theoretical underpinnings and learn more about different approaches to nursing. This was a valuable experience for me as I could implement research concerning an issue I am concerned about. While working on this assignment, I have produced many ideas associated with cultural issues, and I am eager to try them in my practice.

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Alligood, M.R. (2014). Evolution of nursing theories. In M.R. Alligood (Ed.), Nursing theorists and their work (pp. 2-14). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Douglas, M., Rosenkoetter, M., Pacquiao, D., Callister, L., Hattar-Pollara, M., & Lauderdale, J.,…Purness, L. (2014). Guidelines for implementing culturally competent nursing care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 25(2), 109-121.

Giger, J.N. (2016). Transcultural nursing: Assessment and intervention. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

McFarland, M.R. (2014). Madeline M. Leininger: Culture care theory of diversity and universality. In M.R. Alligood (Ed.), Nursing theorists and their work (pp. 417-442). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Prosen, M. (2015). Introducing transcultural nursing education: Implementation of transcultural nursing in the postgraduate nursing curriculum. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 174, 149-155.

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