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Br J Nurs. 2013 Mar 28-Apr 10;22(6):335-9.

Conversations through barriers of language and interpretation.

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Department of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Limerick, Ireland.


Ireland has become a multicultural society in just over a decade, with non-Irish nationals comprising 12% of the population. The challenge for nurses working in the Irish healthcare system is to provide culturally appropriate care to this diverse population. This paper reports on a qualitative descriptive study exploring nurses' experiences of communicating with people from diverse cultures, and focuses on language barriers and the use of interpreters. The findings indicate that communicating with people who do not share the same first language is challenging, in particular the participants (nurses) were concerned about their ability to make a comprehensive assessment that ultimately forms the basis for quality care provision. The use of interpreters can inform the assessment process, but there are challenges in accessing and utilising these services. Further continuing education is required to promote culturally appropriate care. There is a need for increased discussion between nurses and interpreters to maximise communication with patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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