Measurement of cultural competency: A pilot study of nurses' knowledge of religious practices

Kirsten A. Hickerson, Carly Fried, Rochelle R. Levy, Lisa M. Lewis, Joseph Bernstein


Background: Most studies assessing cultural competence inquire about attitudes and beliefs and do not measure mastery of information. In this study, we investigate how much nurses know about various religious practices they might encounter.

Methods: An open response examination with 90 questions regarding Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventist and Evangelical Christianity was administered to 24 faculty members and 60 students.

Results: The mean score on the exam was 22.8 out of 100 (students 23.3%; faculty 21.6%). The sub-scores were highest for questions about Judaism (mean 36.3%) and lowest for questions about Hinduism (12.7%). The answer “I don’t know” was offered in response to 67.3% of all questions.

Discussion: Factual mastery by nurses regarding religious practices was seen to be low. Because providing culturally competent care demands nurses to be both willing and able, this preliminary finding suggests that delivering culturally competent care requires not only awareness and readiness but a better factual knowledge base.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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