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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]

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.pec.2011.01.035


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Immigrants; Cancer: Communication; Unmet needs; Multiculturalism; Cultural competence; Stigma
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Health services and systems not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Social structure and health
UTAS Author:Iedema, R (Professor Rick Iedema)
ID Code:94370
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:60
Deposited By:Health Sciences B
Deposited On:2014-09-08
Last Modified:2015-03-05

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