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Cross-Cultural Communication in Oncology: Challenges and Training Interests

Orest Weber
Brikela Sulstarova
Pascal Singy
ONF 2016, 43(1), E24-E33 DOI: 10.1188/16.ONF.E24-E33

Purpose/Objectives: To survey oncology nurses and oncologists about difficulties in taking care of culturally and linguistically diverse patients and about interests in cross-cultural training.

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional.

Setting: Web-based survey.

Sample: 108 oncology nurses and 44 oncologists.

Methods: 31-item questionnaire derived from preexisting surveys in the United States and Switzerland.

Main Research Variables: Self-rated difficulties in taking care of culturally and linguistically diverse patients and self-rated interests in cross-cultural training.

Findings: All respondents reported communication difficulties in encounters with culturally and linguistically diverse patients. Respondents considered the absence of written materials in other languages, absence of a shared common language with patients, and sensitive subjects (e.g., end of life, sexuality) to be particularly problematic. Respondents also expressed a high level of interest in all aspects of cross-cultural training (task-oriented skills, background knowledge, reflexivity, and attitudes). Nurses perceived several difficulties related to care of migrants as more problematic than physicians did and were more interested in all aspects of cross-cultural training.

Conclusions: The need for cross-cultural training is high among oncology clinicians, particularly among nurses.

Implications for Nursing: The results reported in the current study may help nurses in decision-making positions and educators in introducing elements of cross-cultural education into oncology curricula for nurses. Cross-cultural training should be offered to oncology nurses.

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