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Letters to the Editor – April 2008


The importance of sharing cultural knowledge

Daniel Yourk’s article, “Nursing in Afghanistan: A cultural perspective” (February) was excellent. His recommendation that nurses publish their experiences working with different cultural and ethnic groups is extremely practice-oriented and can be used by nurses at all levels of service delivery.

I believe that becoming a culturally competent nurse entails:
• integrating the concepts of cultural awareness by recognizing our own biases and stereotypes regarding other cultures
• having the right attitude (wanting to become culturally competent, as opposed to feeling obligated)
• learning how to perform a culturally sensitive assessment on all patients
• gaining cultural knowledge by learning about the values, beliefs, practices, and biological variations of ethnic and cultural groups
• experiencing cultural encounters by interacting with members of culturally diverse groups.

By sharing his knowledge of the Afghani culture, Mr. Yourk has started us on the journey toward providing culturally competent nursing care.

Josepha Campinha-Bacote, PhD, MAR, APRN, BC, CNS, CTN, FAAN
President, Transcultural C.A.R.E. Associates
Cincinnati, Ohio


A journal of relevance

Thanks for a great, relevant journal. I’ve enjoyed many of your articles and have taken several of your continuing education tests. In many other nursing publications, I’m lucky to find even one relevant article. American Nurse Today always has at least several. Keep them coming!

Nancy Rodier, MSN, NP
Denver, Colo.


Journal clubs need to follow up on articles

Re “Creating more than just a journal club” (November): I applaud the effort made by Massachusetts General Hospital and its nursing staff in creating its Nursing Research Journal Club. But I’d like to point out one potential drawback of journal clubs in general: lack of follow-up. Too many journal clubs discuss a particular article and then fail to check whether a later correction, disclaimer, or admission of poor research technique was printed. Unless a journal club keeps abreast of research and checks for follow-ups, nurses might end up altering their practice based on erroneous information. Before we jump on a bandwagon, we need to be sure we can drive it.

Deborah Adelman, PhD, RN, CNA,BC, CNS
Springfield, Ill


Just how effective is valerian?

I believe the information about valerian in “Herbal facts, herbal fallacies” (December) is misleading. Although valerian is safe and has few adverse effects, it is not an effective sleep aid. Based on our exhaustive review of the research literature, my colleagues and I do not recommend that practitioners advise patients or colleagues to use valerian as a sleep aid. (Reference: Taibi DM, Landis CA, Petry H, Vitiello MV. A systematic review of valerian as a sleep aid: safe but not effective. Sleep Med Rev. 2007;11;209-231.)

Carol Landis, DNSc, RN, FAAN
Professor, University of Washington
School of Nursing


Author’s response:

As mentioned in the impressive meta-analysis you’ve cited, evaluating valerian as a sleep aid is difficult because studies of this herb have varied in size, design, duration, and specific preparations studied. Indeed, in my article, I emphasized this problem as it pertains to all herbal and nutritionally based therapies. Numerous studies support that improved sleep markers occur with valerian use. Because consumers commonly use valerian as a self-prescribed sleep aid, nurses should be aware of the potential advantages and disadvantages of self-prescribing this psychoactive agent.

Margaret A. Fitzgerald, DNP, FNP-BC, NP-C, FAANP, CSP

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