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Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Sep;84(3):398-405. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.01.035. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

Grappling with cultural differences; communication between oncologists and immigrant cancer patients with and without interpreters.

Author information

1
University of Sydney, NSW, Australia. phyllis.butow@sydney.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Immigrants report challenges communicating with their health team. This study compared oncology consultations of immigrants with and without interpreters vs Anglo-Australian patients.

METHODS:

Patients with newly diagnosed incurable cancer who had immigrated from Arabic, Chinese or Greek speaking countries or were Anglo-Australian, and family members, were recruited from 10 medical oncologists in 9 hospitals. Two consultations from each patient were audio-taped, transcribed, translated into English and coded.

RESULTS:

Seventy-eight patients (47 immigrant and 31 Anglo-Australian) and 115 family members (77 immigrant and 38 Anglo Australian) participated in 141 audio-taped consultations. Doctors spoke less to immigrants with interpreters than to Anglo-Australians (1443 vs. 2246 words, p=0.0001), spent proportionally less time on cancer related issues (p=0.005) and summarising and informing (p≤0.003) and more time on other medical issues (p=0.0008) and directly advising (p=0.0008). Immigrants with interpreters gave more high intensity cues (10.4 vs 7.4). Twenty percent of cues were not interpreted. Doctors tended to delay responses to or ignore more immigrant than Anglo-Australian cues (13% vs 5%, p=0.06).

CONCLUSIONS:

Immigrant cancer patients with interpreters experience different interactions with their doctors than Anglo-Australians, which may compromise their well-being and decisions.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Guidelines and proven training programmes are needed to improve communication with immigrant patients, particularly those with interpreters.

PMID:
21388772
DOI:
10.1016/j.pec.2011.01.035
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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