Cultural conflict: the impact of western feminism(s) on nurses caring for women of non-English speaking background Academic Article uri icon


  • Much research has been conducted for understanding the health needs of people of different cultural backgrounds and the problems they experience in seeking health care. In Australia, despite such research, it is argued that there remains an exclusionary health care culture that continues to affect equity and access for people of non-English speaking background. There was a need for research in which health professionals examined their own Anglo-Australian culture and its impact on other ethnic communities. Such concerns provided the impetus for a feminist praxis study to engage nurses in understanding and improving care for migrant women. This study was conducted with 26 nurses in a paediatric hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Five collaborative research groups were formed, each consisting of four to six nurses who were co-researchers. Together, the nurses and researchers explored the health care experiences of migrant women, using a variety of quantitative and qualitative data collection strategies. This paper explores a major finding of the study, which was the impact of liberal feminist approaches on the practices of Australian nurses who cared for women of different ethnicity and race. The study found that the efforts of liberal feminist nurses to "treat all people the same" meant that women from different cultural backgrounds did not always receive equity in care. Through the feminist praxis process the nurses were able to explore contradictions in their practice and focus on equity in care to meet the specific gendered and racially constructed needs of women of different cultural backgrounds. A number of strategies were adopted that included regular use of female health interpreters and provision of privacy for migrant women when caring for their children.

publication date

  • September 2002

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