Cultural immersion through international experiences among Japanese nurses: Present status, future intentions, and perceived barriers

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Given limited exposure to various ethnicities, languages, and cultures, providing health care to an increasing foreign population in Japan will likely be challenging for Japanese nurses. This study aimed to examine past and intended future international experiences of Japanese nurses to assess their cultural immersion level.


A cross-sectional electronic survey was conducted among 2029 nurses in 2010. Participants were categorized by travel purpose, and the frequency of non-holiday travel was analyzed. To examine participants' desire for and perceived feasibility of future non-holiday international experiences by background characteristics, logistic regression analyses were performed.


Of 1039 participants, 10.1% had past non-holiday international experiences, with 80% having traveled to high-income, English-speaking countries. The median value for travel frequency was once, and the median duration of travel was less than 1 month. The most common purpose of travel was participation in short-term programs (e.g. professional training, language study). Fifty-one percent of female nurses reported a desire for future non-holiday international experiences. Of these, 37.2% considered such experiences feasible. Age of the youngest child, having nursing specialization, English proficiency, and past international experience were significant predictors for feasibility.


Japanese nurses with foreign experience were considered valuable human resources for culturally appropriate care. Efforts should be made to integrate them into the Japanese healthcare setting. The present study revealed room for improvement in foreign language proficiency and cross-cultural training with a focus on non-English-speaking and developing countries. A supportive workplace environment should be created that allows nurses to pursue the international experiences they desire.

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