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Leininger’s Culture Care and Universality Theory: Enhancing Cultural Competence in Nursing Practice

Culture is vital in healthcare delivery, shaping patients’ beliefs, values, and health-seeking behaviors. Leininger created the Culture Care and Universality Theory and Model to discuss how culture affects nursing care(Swihart et al., 2022). This theory says it is important to give care that respects different cultures. Nurses must be culturally aware when applying this theory and respect different cultures. However, daily barriers due to cultural discrepancies, such as language and communication barriers, clashes between cultural beliefs and Western medical practices, and healthcare disparities based on cultural factors, can arise. Overcoming these barriers requires cultural competence, effective communication strategies, and a commitment to promoting diversity and addressing healthcare disparities, ultimately enhancing equitable and patient-centered care.

Defining Leininger’s Culture Care and Universality Theory

As (McFarland & Hiba Wehbe-Alamah, 2019) posits, culture Care and Universality Theory by Leininger highlights the significance of including cultural aspects in nursing care. It knows that culture is an essential thing that can change how healthy and well people are. It says we must give care that understands and matches cultures to get good health results. This theory says that every person has unique care needs, even if they have different cultures. Nurses should change their care to match these cultural needs.

Application of Leininger’s Theory in Nursing Practice

Going by (McFarland, 2019) suggestions in my practice as a nurse, applying Leininger’s Culture Care and Universality Theory involves adopting a culturally sensitive approach to care delivery. To start, it is crucial to understand and respect the various cultures that patients belong to. Doing this helps me engage in culturally appropriate care practices by integrating patients’ cultural beliefs, practices, and values into their individualized care plans. Moreover, this theory promotes the idea that nurses and patients should build a therapeutic relationship built on trust and mutual understanding. Listening carefully and respecting patients helps me understand their cultural requirements and choices. Considering this knowledge when providing care allows healthcare providers to create interventions that acknowledge a patient’s cultural values and promote better health outcomes.

Barriers Faced Due to Cultural Discrepancies

Daily encounters with cultural discrepancies present notable challenges in nursing practice. Having trouble with language and communication can make things complicated. As (Hilal Al Shamsi et al., 2020) posits, differences in language proficiency hinder practical patient assessment, care planning, and health education. Getting past this hurdle means utilizing professional interpreters, language assistance services, or bilingual healthcare professionals on staff. Sometimes, patients’ beliefs about health clash with what the doctors think is best. Occasionally, cultural practices and religious convictions may not align with typical medical treatments. This disagreement could lead to people failing to follow the prescribed course of action or feeling skeptical about it. Dealing with this barrier requires understanding diverse cultures, communicating openly, and making decisions that combine Western medicine with patients’ cultural customs.

Additionally, cultural elements can contribute to variations in healthcare, influencing how individuals receive medical treatment and their overall health results. According to (Togioka et al., 2023), discrimination, bias, and prejudice towards particular cultural groups can contribute to unequal healthcare delivery and worsen health inequities. We must value diverse cultures, welcome everyone, and create just healthcare regulations to overcome these obstacles.


Leininger’s Culture Care and Universality Theory give nurses a helpful tool to become more culturally competent. Nurses who embrace culturally sensitive care practices can effectively meet the unique needs of diverse patient populations. Even though cultural disparities pose daily challenges, implementing this theory supports equal and patient-oriented care, ultimately leading to favorable health outcomes for individuals from various cultural backgrounds. Incorporating Leininger’s theory in their practice helps nurses navigate cultural diversity and provide comprehensive care that aligns with the beliefs and practices of patients from various cultural backgrounds. Ultimately, this technique aids in developing an inclusive healthcare atmosphere and elevates the standard of care.


Hilal Al Shamsi, Abdullah Ghthaith Almutairi, Mashrafi, A., & Kalbani, A. (2020). Implications of Language Barriers for Healthcare: A Systematic Review35(2), e122–e122.

McFarland, M. R. (2019). Leininger’s Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality: An Overview With a Historical Retrospective and a View Toward the Future – Marilyn R. McFarland, Hiba B. Wehbe-Alamah, 2019. Journal of Transcultural Nursing.

McFarland, M. R., & Hiba Wehbe-Alamah. (2019). Leininger’s Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality: An Overview With a Historical Retrospective and a View Toward the Future30(6), 540–557.

Swihart, D. L., Siva, & Martin, R. L. (2022, November 14). Cultural Religious Competence in Clinical Practice.; StatPearls Publishing.

Togioka, B. M., Duvivier, D., & Young, E. (2023, February 15). Diversity and Discrimination in Healthcare.; StatPearls Publishing.


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