Exploring and understanding the personal and professional value conflicts experience for undergraduate nursing students in Saudi Arabia

  • Hanadi Mohammed Yaseen

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Background: Saudi Arabia is facing a nursing shortage, but it has traditionally been difficult to attract local Saudi Arabian women to this profession. Literature indicates that practising Saudi Arabian nurses experience value conflicts because of the poor status of nursing in this society and the ways in which their nursing roles conflict with religious and cultural values. Little research has been conducted, however, into value conflicts among female Muslim student nurses in Saudi Arabia; this is important so that value conflicts can be addressed at an early stage of their education and to generate information for use in improving the public image of nursing in Saudi Arabia.
    Aims: The study investigated the experiences of value conflicts among a sample of female Muslim student nurses in a higher education institution in Saudi Arabia and to explore the awareness and views of faculty about these conflicts. It developed practical recommendations for the case study institution based on the findings.
    Methods: An exploratory qualitative study used interviews and focus groups with second and fourth-year nursing degree students. The main study used a qualitative case study methodology. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with further samples of second and fourth year female Muslim student nurses, and interviews were carried out with a sample of faculty. A documentary analysis was also conducted.
    Findings: All the student nurses were found to be experiencing value conflicts, most commonly between professional values, relating to the importance of providing the best patient care, and religious and cultural values which prohibit close contact between unrelated individuals of different genders and specifically the exposure of private areas of the body (awrah). Family background appeared to have an influence on the extent to which value conflicts were experienced, suggesting that these are influenced by cultural factors. Faculty were aware of the value conflicts, but were doing little to address them constructively; the documentary analysis revealed that the issue is barely covered in nurse education. There was confusion among students and faculty alike about the types of nursing tasks that are acceptable within Islam, and informal practices allowing students to refuse tasks causing value conflicts were widespread. However, some of the student nurses reported avoiding value conflicts by viewing nursing as a way of demonstrating Islamic values such as love and care.
    Conclusions: While there is a longer-term need for improved policies and guidance to clarify what types of nursing tasks are permissible within Islam, educational strategies and awareness raising strategies are also important. Rokeach’s theory of value change was used to inform recommendations for classroom discussions intended to improve transparency and discussion of value conflicts and promote the adoption of new mindsets in which nursing is better aligned with Islamic values.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsKing Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre
    SupervisorKaren Smith (Supervisor), Jane Fenton (Supervisor) & Joan Cameron (Supervisor)


    • Values
    • value conflicts
    • Muslim
    • female
    • student nurses
    • Saudi Arabia
    • professional values
    • nursing,
    • nurse education
    • Islam
    • Culture

    Cite this