Providing Transcultural to Children and Parents: An Exploratory Study From Italy

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Immigration and multiculturalism are relatively recent in Italian society, and social adaptation to this new reality is still ongoing. Immigrants to Italy mainly come from China, Albania, Northern Africa, and Eastern Europe. Because no study about this topic was found, our goal was to investigate attitudes and problems encountered by Italian nurses in a paediatric setting with regard to nursing care of children and their families from other countries.

Design and Methods:

Exploratory study. An anonymous 11-item “ad hoc” questionnaire was distributed to 201 ward nurses of the Meyer Paediatric Hospital, Florence, Italy in May 2007.


In all, 129 nurses (64.1%) answered the questionnaire; 78.3% reported having experienced some difficulties in providing care to foreign children and their families. The language barrier was reported as the most important, although more than two-thirds of nurses speak a language in addition to Italian. About half of the nurses encountered problems in care because of different nutrition and personal hygiene customs of patients and their families. Religious and spiritual practices were perceived as a problem by only a minority of nurses. Almost half of the nurses reported having been involved in care situations wherein they felt embarrassed or disapproval concerning the behaviour of parents of foreign children. This included discomfort about different views concerning the social role of women. Nurses also perceived in foreign parents opinions different from their own about the role of nurses (10%) and attitudes of children toward pain associated with medical procedures (45%).


This is the first study we know about regarding attitudes of Italian nurses toward multicultural care. Effective communication is the main aspect of delivering culturally competent care. Language as a means of communication is paramount for an effective nurse-patient relationship without which nursing care is unsatisfactory. Our study indicates the importance of teaching transcultural nursing, cultural diversity, and culturally competent nursing care in university and continuing professional education programs for Italian nurses and nursing students.

Clinical Relevance:

This study indicates the strengths and weaknesses of Italian nurses in managing the care of non-Italian children and their families; and the need for a background of transcultural nursing and theory.

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