New perspectives on understanding cultural diversity in nurse-patient communication
Effective communication is essential in developing rapport with patients, and many nursing roles such as patient assessment, education, and counselling consist only of dialogue. With increasing cultural diversity among nurses and patients in Australia, there are growing concerns relating to the potential for miscommunication, as differences in language and culture can cause misunderstandings which can have serious impacts on health outcomes and patient safety (Hamilton & Woodward-Kron, 2010). According to Grant and Luxford (2011) there is little research into the way health professionals approach working with cultural difference or how this impacts on their everyday practice. Furthermore, there has been minimal examination of intercultural nurse-patient communication from a linguistic perspective. Applying linguistic frameworks to nursing practice can help nurses understand what is happening in their communication with patients, particularly where people from different cultures are interacting. This paper discusses intercultural nurse-patient communication and refers to theoretical frameworks from applied linguistics to explain how miscommunication may occur. It illustrates how such approaches will help to raise awareness of underlying causes and potentially lead to more effective communication skills, therapeutic relationships and therefore patient satisfaction and safety.
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