A convenience sample of 50 hospitalized patients who had experienced major care from two nurses, one of whom shared their mother-tongue (Arabic) and one of whom did not, were asked to rate, using 10-point visual analogue scales, their current pain, worry about their medical condition, and knowledge about the medical investigations carried out The two nurses nominated by each patient were asked to rate their patient's pain, worry and knowledge using the same scales Pain assessments by the three respondent groups did not differ significantly, but only nurses sharing a mother-tongue with the patient provided pain ratings which correlated significantly with those of their patients Both groups of nurses consistently rated patients as being more worried and more knowledgable than patients rated themselves Nurses, unlike patients, associated greater knowledge with greater worry The limitations of the study undertaken are reviewed Discussion centres on the implications of these findings for optimizing nursing care, including situations where nurse and patient do not share a cultural background and cannot converse readily