Should culture affect practice? A comparison of prognostic discussions in consultations with immigrant versus native-born cancer patients

Phyllis N. Butow, Ming Sze, Maurice Eisenbruch, Melaine L. Bell, Lynley J. Aldridge, Sarah Abdo, Michelle Tanious, Skye Dong, Rick Iedema, Janette Vardy, Rina Hui, Francis Boyle, Winston Liauw, David Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Poor prognosis is difficult to impart, particularly across a cultural divide. This study compared prognostic communication with immigrants (with and without interpreters) versus native-born patients in audio-taped oncology consultations. Methods: Ten oncologists, 78 patients (31 Australian-born, 47 immigrants) and 115 family members participated. The first two consultations after diagnosis of incurable disease were audiotaped, transcribed and coded. 142 consultations were included in the analysis. Results: Fifty percent of doctor and 59% of patient prognostic speech units were not interpreted or interpreted non-equivalently when an interpreter was present. Immigrant status predicted few prognostic facts, and oncologist characteristics no prognostic facts, disclosed. Oncologists were significantly less likely to convey hope to immigrants (p = 0.0004), and more likely to use medical jargon (p = 0.009) than with Australian-born patients. Incurable disease status and a limited life span were commonly acknowledged, generally with no timeframe provided. Physical issues were discussed more commonly than emotional aspects. Conclusions: While culture did not appear to influence doctor speech, interpreters filtered or blocked much prognostic communication. Practice implications: Initiatives to empower all patients to attain needed information, optimise communication when an interpreter is present and train cancer health professionals in culturally appropriate care, are urgently required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-252
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Volume92
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Communication
  • Cross cultural
  • Oncology
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Butow, P. N., Sze, M., Eisenbruch, M., Bell, M. L., Aldridge, L. J., Abdo, S., Tanious, M., Dong, S., Iedema, R., Vardy, J., Hui, R., Boyle, F., Liauw, W., & Goldstein, D. (2013). Should culture affect practice? A comparison of prognostic discussions in consultations with immigrant versus native-born cancer patients. Patient Education and Counseling, 92(2), 246-252. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2013.03.006