Understanding the ways in which health visitors manage anxiety in cross-cultural work: a qualitative study

Fiona Cuthill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Aim This paper is a report of part of a study that explored the ways in which health visitors manage uncertainty and anxiety when working with clients across cultures.

Background Internationally health care professionals are required to deliver a high standard of culturally appropriate care to increasingly diverse communities and yet problems persist. Research evidence informing cultural ‘competence’ is focused largely around student experience and consequently little is known about the day-to-day experiences of health professionals in diverse community settings. Anxiety and uncertainty are increasingly recognised as important emotions experienced by a variety of health care professionals when working across cultures and yet the ways in which anxiety and uncertainty is managed in practice is less well understood.

Design Grounded theory methodology was used and 21 semi-structured interviews were conducted with participating health visitors in the North East of England between May 2008 and September 2009. All participants described themselves as white.

Findings This study identified three different positions adopted by the health visitors to manage uncertainty and anxiety in their work across cultures. Identified as, ‘Fixing a culture’, ‘Reworking the equality agenda’ and ‘Asserting the professional self’, these strategies identify the ways in which health visitors try to manage the uncertainty and anxiety they feel when working in diverse communities. All of these strategies attempt in different ways to negate cultural difference and to render culture as static and known.

Conclusion Given that health professionals report anxiety and uncertainty when working across diverse community settings, identification of the strategies used by health visitors to manage that anxiety is important for both policy and practice. New strategies need to be developed to help health professionals to manage uncertainty and anxiety in ways that promote both cultural safe care and health equity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPrimary Health Care Research & Development
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding the ways in which health visitors manage anxiety in cross-cultural work: a qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this