Caution: These are broad generalizations and should not be used to stereotype any individuals.

Provide frequent updates on patient treatments and progress to help allay the anxiety of family members.

They may expect nurses to be friendly, warm, caring, and to "feel" for them.

Use hand gestures and facial expressions when English proficiency is minimal.

They may speak loudly and seem abrasive. This was necessary in Russia to get attention in the healthcare system.

Make direct eye contact, be firm, and be respectful.

Address patients as "Mr." or "Mrs."

Gender Relations
The gender of the provider is usually not an issue, but they may prefer to have a family member of the same gender present when performing personal care.

Expression of Pain
They tend to have a high pain threshold and stoic attitude regarding pain.

Encourage appropriate pain management and pre-medicate for dressing changes or daily care that causes discomfort.

Pregnancy and Birth
Exercise & lifting heavy objects often avoided during pregnancy.

Female relative often the preferred labor & delivery partner.

End of Life Issues
Since family members may want to withhold a fatal diagnosis from the patient, ask patient upon admission (or before the need arises, if possible) whom should be given information about his/her condition.

Autopsies and organ donations may be refused due to the sacredness of the body.

Health Related Practices
Many, especially the elderly, believe that illness results from cold. Therefore, keep them covered, close windows, keep the room warm, and avoid iced drinks...especially if they have a fever.

They will often prefer sponge baths to showers.

They may not like taking large numbers of pills. Space medication administration so that as few pills as possible are given at one time.

They may prefer non-pharmacologic interventions for nausea, including lemon slices, ginger ale, mineral water, or weak tea with lemon.

Be aware that they may practice cupping; resulting marks should not be misinterpreted as abuse or a symptom.

Patients and their families may frequently offer small gifts of food or chocolate. Accept them, as it may be perceived as rude to turn them down.

Note: Information for this profile is based on the work of Peter Anderson, R.N. and from Evanikoff, L.J. (1996) Russians. In JG Lipson, SL Dibble, and PA Minarik (Eds.), Culture and Nursing Care: A Pocket Guide (pp. 239-249). San Francisco: UCSF Nursing Press.

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