Leininger’s Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality

Contributor: Jacqueline Fawcett
September 3, 2018
View FITNE Video Interview of Madeleine Leininger
by Jacqueline Fawcett
View FITNE Video Exploring Leininger’s “Sunrise Enabler” by Martha Alligood

Author – Madeleine M. Leininger, RN: PhD, CTN, FRCAN; FAAN; LL (Living Legend)

Year First Published – 1991
© 2018 Jacqueline Fawcett
Major Concepts




  • Technological factors
  • Religious and philosophical factors
  • Kinship and social factors
  • Cultural values, beliefs, and lifeways
  • Political and legal factors
  • Economic factors
  • Educational factors







  • Cultural care diversity
  • Cultural care universality


  • Generic (folk) nursing care practices
  • Professional Care-Cure Practices


  • Cultural care preservation or maintenance
    • Assist
    • Support
    • Facilitate
    • Enable
  • Cultural care accommodation or negotiation
    • Assist
    • Support
    • Facilitate
    • Enable
  • Cultural care repatterning or restructuring
    • Assist
    • Support
    • Facilitate
    • Enable


  • Goals of Nursing Practice
  • Clients
  • Culturalogical Assessment
    • Use of the Sunrise Model
  • Nursing Judgments, Decisions, and Actions
  • Clinical Protocols

A grand theory of nursing

Brief Description

“Leininger’s work focuses on the discovery of human care diversities and universalities and ways to provide culturally-congruent care to people worldwide. . . . [The] goals of nursing practice are to improve and to provide culturally congruent care to people that is beneficial, will fit with, and be useful to the client, family, or culture group healthy lifeways [and] to provide culturally congruent nursing care in order to improve or offer a different kind of nursing care service to people of diverse or similar cultures.” (Fawcett, J. (2000). Analysis and evaluation of contemporary nursing knowledge: Nursing models and theories (pp. 512, 535). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis.)

Primary Sources

Selected Major Primary Sources

Leininger, M.M. (1967). The culture concept and its relevance to nursing. Journal of Nursing Education, 6(2), 27-39. [Reprinted in Auld, M.E., & Birum, L.H. (Eds.) (1973). The challenge of nursing: A book of readings (pp. 39-46). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.]

Leininger, M.M. (1978). Transcultural nursing: Concepts, theories, and practices. New York< NY: Wiley.

Leininger, M. (1995). Transcultural nursing: Concepts, theories, research, and practices (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Leininger, M.M. (Ed.) (1991). Culture care diversity and universality: A theory of nursing. New York, NY: National League for Nursing.

Leininger, M.M., & McFarland, M.R. (2006). Culture care diversity and universality: A worldwide nursing theory (2nd ed.). Boston MA: Jones and Bartlett.

McFarland, M.R., & Wehbe-Alamah, H.B. (2015). Leininger’s culture care diversity and universality: A worldwide nursing theory (3rd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Selected other primary sources

Leininger, M.M. (1988). Leininger’s theory of nursing: Cultural care diversity and universality Nursing Science Quarterly, 1, 152-160.

Leininger, M.M. (1988). Madeleine M. Leininger. In T.M. Schorr & A. Zimmerman, Making choices. Taking chances. Nurse leaders tell their stories (pp. 187-192). St. Louis: Mosby.

Leininger, M.M. (1992). Reflections on Nightingale with a focus on human care theory and leadership. In F. Nightingale, Notes on nursing: What it is, and what it is not (Commemorative edition, pp. 28-38). Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott. (Original work published in 1859).

Leininger, M.M. (1996). Culture care theory, research, and practice. Nursing Science Quarterly, 9, 71-78.


Madeleine M. Leininger (1925-2012)


  • Diploma, St. Anthony’s School of Nursing, Denver, CO
  • BS in Biological Science with a minor in Philosophy and Humanistic Studies), Benedictine College, Atchison, KS (1950)
  • MS in Psychiatric Nursing, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC (1954)
  • PhD in Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Dr. Leininger has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Human Sciences, an honorary Doctor of Science, and an honorary Doctor of Philosophy


Director of Nursing Service at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Omaha NB
Faculty and administration positions at the University of Cincinnati, University of Utah, and Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.  Dr. Leininger founded the Transcultural Nursing Society in 1974 and is regarded as “the foremost authority in the world in the field of cultural care” (http://madeleine-leininger.com/)

(McFarland, M. R. (2010). Culture care theory of diversity and universality. In M. R. Alligood & A. M. Tomey (Eds.), Nursing theorists and their work (7th ed., pp. 454-479). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.)

1990 Video Interview of Madeleine Leininger by Jacqueline Fawcett

Marilyn McFarland (2016) explores “Leininger’s Sunrise Enabler to Discover Culture Care “