Document Detail

Language as a barrier to care for Xhosa-speaking patients at a South African paediatric teaching hospital.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  17164939     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: Disease is closely linked to the social context in which we live. Difficulty with communication, cultural incompatibility between patients and health care providers and socioeconomic obstacles are important barriers to quality care when doctors and patients come from different backgrounds and speak different languages. Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital (RCH) is a paediatric teaching hospital in Cape Town where staff members communicate mainly in English or Afrikaans, while many patients speak Xhosa as their first language.
OBJECTIVES: The study aimed to identify barriers to optimal care for Xhosa-speaking parents of patients at RCH. The contribution of language difficulties was assessed as a possible barrier to health care for this group.
DESIGN: A questionnaire was developed and administered to 53 Xhosa-speaking parents of children admitted to the short-stay ward at RCH. The questionnaire examined parents' perceptions of barriers to their children's care, using openended questions, closed-ended questions and selection from lists.
RESULTS: Parents experienced significant structural and socioeconomic barriers to access of health care for their children. Language and cultural barriers were cited by more parents as a major barrier to health care than structural and socioeconomic barriers. Parents did not have access to same-language practitioners, as only 6% of medical interviews were conducted partly or wholly in the patient's home language. Of the 94% of interviews where no Xhosa was spoken by medical staff, 21% were conducted with the aid of an interpreter (formal or ad hoc) and in 79% no interpreter was used. Parents experienced difficulties with understanding the doctors (64%), making themselves understood (54%) and asking questions (38%). Sixty-nine per cent of parents were dissatisfied with communication between themselves and their doctors and 45% were concerned about negative effects of poor communication on them or their children. Parents tended to blame their own linguistic limitation rather than those of the doctors.
M E Levin
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  South African medical journal = Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir geneeskunde     Volume:  96     ISSN:  0256-9574     ISO Abbreviation:  S. Afr. Med. J.     Publication Date:  2006 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2006-12-13     Completed Date:  2007-01-04     Revised Date:  2014-09-12    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0404520     Medline TA:  S Afr Med J     Country:  South Africa    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1076-9     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Communication Barriers*
Cultural Characteristics
Health Care Surveys
Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
Hospitals, Pediatric*
Hospitals, Teaching*
Middle Aged
South Africa

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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