Grappling with cultural differences; Communication between oncologists and immigrant cancer patients with and without interpreters
Butow, PN and Bell, ML and Sze, M and Aldridge, L and Abdo, S and Eisenbruch, M and Mikhail, M and Dong, S and Iedema, R and Ashgari, R and Hui, R and Eisenbruch, M, Grappling with cultural differences; Communication between oncologists and immigrant cancer patients with and without interpreters, Patient Education and Counseling, 84, (3) pp. 398-405. ISSN 1873-5134 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Immigrants report challenges communicating with their health team. This study compared oncology consultations of immigrants with and without interpreters vs Anglo-Australian patients.
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.
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).
Immigrant cancer patients with interpreters experience different interactions with their doctors than Anglo-Australians, which may compromise their well-being and decisions.
Guidelines and proven training programmes are needed to improve communication with immigrant patients, particularly those with interpreters.
Immigrants; Cancer: Communication; Unmet needs; Multiculturalism; Cultural competence; Stigma