Non-judgmental care acknowledges all aspects of your patients, including spiritual and cultural needs. Non-judgmental, holistic care affirms the dignity of your patients and helps them have a voice in their health care.
Public health nurses (PHNs) work with patients from all walks of life. Many patient characteristics may put them at risk of receiving judgmental care. These characteristics include race, religion, culture and nationality, age, gender, veteran status, sexual orientation, and mental health, to name a few.
To provide the best care for our patients, PHNs must provide non-judgmental care; this is a professional obligation with ethical and legal implications. Ethically, PHNs are bound by beneficence (to do no harm), and legally, non-judgmental care is considered a standard of practice.
Key attitudes to promote non-judgmental care
The attitudes involved in non-judgmental care are acceptance, genuineness, and empathy.
- Acceptance is respecting the person's feelings, experiences, and values, even though they may differ from yours.
- Genuineness means showing the person that you accept them and their values through what you say and do, ensuring your body language matches your words.
- Empathy is the ability to "place yourself in the other person's shoes" and to demonstrate to the person that you truly hear and understand what they are saying and feeling.
Advice for providing non-judgmental care
Be aware of your patients' experiences and needs. These may include their emotional, spiritual, mental, and cultural needs. Awareness of your patient's needs may require being open to different ideas or beliefs than you are familiar with. As your patients express their beliefs, respect them and listen to any concerns they may have.
Improving cultural knowledge and skills can enhance your ability to ask questions and interact with your patients without judging them. Listening to your patients and providing non-judgmental care may help you prevent stereotyping. Awareness of your own stereotypical beliefs about others can help overcome and eliminate stereotyping in nursing care.
Koh, A. (1999). Non judgmental care as a professional obligation. Nursing standard: official newspaper of the Royal College of Nursing 13(37):38-41. DOI: 10.7748/ns1999.06.13.37.38.c2612
Arkansas State University. How to provide nonjudgmental holistic care.