Themes in Health Care Culture: Application of Cultural Transformation Theory

  • Julie Kennedy Oehlert University of California, San Diego
Keywords: Cultural Transformation Theory, domination, partnership, interprofessional, healthcare culture, nurse leaders


Key aspects of culture change include familiarizing oneself with how relationships are structured and encouraging an awareness of how people relate to one another on a domination/partnership continuum (Eisler & Potter, 2014). In 2013, 200 nurse leaders were asked to rate their own cultures on a continuum of domination to partnership based on Eisler’s Cultural Transformation Theory (1987). Of those nurse leaders, 37.5% rated their organizations as being closer to a domination culture than a partnership culture. These findings prompted the development and delivery of a webinar series that applied Cultural Transformation Theory to healthcare culture. The attendees noted an overall change in self-rating of their healthcare culture as they learned about domination and partnership culture. This shift in rating could indicate Cultural Transformation Theory’s usefulness in understanding healthcare culture, and in identifying domination and partnership relationships. In discussions during the webinar three themes emerged: 1) Healthcare culture inclines toward domination and this has an impact on patients, 2) Leadership impacts organizational culture, and 3) Leaders are unaware of domination tendencies within their own cultures. Further discussion is needed to identify strategies that support cultural changes, ultimately leading to improvements in safety, quality, and patient experience within healthcare.

How to Cite
Kennedy Oehlert, J. (2015). Themes in Health Care Culture: Application of Cultural Transformation Theory. Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, 2(1).