Why is cultural safety essential in health care?

Med Law. 2007 Dec;26(4):699-707.


The concept of cultural safety involves empowerment of the healthcare practitioner and the patient. The determinants of 'safe' care are defined by the recipient of care. Cultural safety is linked to the principles of New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi. These are participation, protection and partnership. Cultural safety was initially a response to the poor health status of indigenous New Zealanders but has since broadened to encompass a wide range of cultural determinants. Importance is placed on identifying and evaluating one's own beliefs and values and recognising the potential for these to impact on others. Dissemination of cultural safety knowledge and practice outside of New Zealand is growing. This concept provides recognition of the indices of power inherent in any interaction and the potential for disparity and inequality within any relationship. Acknowledgement by the healthcare practitioner that imposition of their own cultural beliefs may disadvantage the recipient of healthcare is fundamental to the delivery of culturally safe care.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Health Services, Indigenous
  • Humans
  • New Zealand
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Patient Participation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient Rights / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient-Centered Care* / ethics
  • Patient-Centered Care* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Transcultural Nursing / education