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Aust J Prim Health. 2012;18(3):197-203. doi: 10.1071/PY11030.

Grunt language versus accent: the perceived communication barriers between international medical graduates and patients in Central Wheatbelt catchments.

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School of Primary, Aboriginal and Rural Health Care, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.


Due to the chronic shortages of GPs in Australian rural and remote regions, considerable numbers of international medical graduates (IMG) have been recruited. IMG experience many difficulties when relocating to Australia with one of the most significant being effective GP-patient communication. Given that this is essential for effective consultation it can have a substantial impact on health care. A purposive sample of seven practising GPs (five IMG, two Australian-trained doctors (ATD)) was interviewed using a semistructured face-to-face interviewing technique. GPs from Nigeria, Egypt, United Kingdom, India, Singapore and Australia participated. Interviews were transcribed and then coded. The authors used qualitative thematic analysis of interview transcripts to identify common themes. IMG-patient communication barriers were considered significant in the Wheatbelt region as identified by both IMG and ATD. ATD indicated they were aware of IMG-patient communication issues resulting in subsequent consults with patients to explain results and diagnoses. Significantly, a lack of communication between ATD and IMG also emerged, creating a further barrier to effective communication. Analysis of the data generated several important findings that rural GP networks should consider when integrating new IMG into the community. Addressing the challenges related to cross-cultural differences should be a priority, in order to enable effective communication. More open communication between ATD and IMG about GP-patient communication barriers and education programs around GP-patient communication would help both GP and patient satisfaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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