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How to Provide Nonjudgmental Holistic Care

Nurses who provide nonjudgmental, holistic care affirm the dignity of patients and give them a voice in the healthcare

Nurses should strive to be nonjudgmental when caring for patients. Nonjudgmental, holistic care helps promote well-being and may improve the patient’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. While many patients already feel vulnerable in healthcare settings, some patients may feel more vulnerable than others. Harmful societal attitudes — discrimination and judgement — can hinder the healing process and are unprofessional and unethical. As a nurse, you can help your patients by providing kind, nonjudgmental care that acknowledges all aspects of your patients’ makeup. Holistic care treats and recognizes other needs of the patient, such as spiritual and cultural needs, that modern medicine alone can’t meet. Nonjudgmental, holistic care affirms the dignity of your patients and helps them have a voice in their healthcare.

Judgmental Attitudes That Hurt Patients

Unfortunately, many patients experience discrimination or judgment in healthcare settings. The nursing profession has identified several patient characteristics and population groups that may be at risk of receiving judgmental care. Patients should not be discriminated against or judged for who they are.

The following patient identities, experiences, statuses and characteristics, in no particular order, may place patients in danger of receiving judgmental nursing care:

  • Race.
  • Religion.
  • Culture and Nationality.
  • Age.
  • Gender.
  • Veteran Status.
  • Sexual Orientation.
  • Mental Health.
  • HIV/AIDS Status.
  • Obesity.
  • Diagnosis or Prognosis.
  • Drug Use (history of substance abuse or addiction).

This list is not exhaustive, so nurses should strive to provide the best nonjudgmental care to everyone.

How to Provide Holistic Care

Holistic care starts with awareness of patient experiences and needs. Human beings are complex and have needs that extend beyond physical healing and well-being. To truly help your patients, you may need to be mindful of their emotional, spiritual, mental and cultural needs. You must be sensitive and stay attentive to your patients. When necessary, you can also enlist help from other providers and outside resources. Patients with spiritual concerns, for example, may ask you to refer them to an appropriate chaplain in your healthcare facility or from the outside community.

Nurses should become more aware of how patients’ other needs affect their healthcare. Some patients, for example, may have concerns about particular treatments that conflict with their religious or cultural beliefs. Being sensitive to your patients may require being open to different ideas or beliefs than you are familiar with. As your patients express their beliefs, be sure to respect them and listen to any concerns they may have. In some cases, these beliefs may impact their healthcare by restricting how they receive care from you or the types of care they can receive. Many personal beliefs do not impact healthcare directly, but may lead the patient to ask for other services. Wherever possible and practical, you should strive to recognize and help patients with these needs.

Cultural Skill and Competence

As a nurse, having cultural skills means knowing how to provide care to a diverse community without judgment. Culturally skilled nurses know how to ask questions and interact with their patients without judging them. Nurses can develop these skills over time as they gain experience and knowledge. Since asking a question or interacting with patients the wrong way may cause them to experience judgment, obtaining cultural skills may help you improve your own work with patients. Knowing, for example, how to appropriately ask a hospice patient about their spiritual needs and preferences so you can help them obtain the services they need can increase their comfort level.

Listening to your patients, getting to know them, and providing nonjudgmental care may help prevent you from stereotyping your patients. Stereotypes are unreliable, but many people believe them and this could hinder the care process. You should try to actively identify your own stereotypical beliefs about other people so you can overcome and eliminate stereotyping in nursing care.

Nurses should provide nonjudgmental, holistic nursing care to all of their patients. Some patients may be at a greater risk of receiving judgmental care, so you need to be aware of this possibility. Nurses should avoid judgmental attitudes, discrimination and hate of others. Whenever possible, nurses should listen to their patients and promote a caring, inclusive environment. Holistic nursing care acknowledges patients and their mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs. Nurses can help patients receive the care and services they need by listening to their patients and developing their own cultural competence. Nurses can also help patients feel more comfortable and supported while they receive care.

Learn more about the Arkansas State University online RN to BSN program.


The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing: Many Faces: Addressing Diversity in Health Care

American Nurses Association: Confronting Racism in Health Care There’s More to Her Than Mental Illness

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