Communication Challenges and Strategies of U.S. Health Professionals Caring for Seriously Ill South Asian Patients and Their Families

Nidhi Khosla*, Karla T. Washington, Sara Lynn Shaunfield, Rebecca Aslakson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: While effective communication is important in the care of seriously ill patients, little is known about communication challenges faced by healthcare providers serving U.S. patients of South Asian origin, one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the United States. Objective: Researchers sought to examine communication challenges faced by healthcare providers serving seriously ill South Asian patients and their families and present strategies recommended by providers for effective communication. Design: Researchers conducted a thematic analysis of qualitative data obtained through focus groups and individual interviews with 57 healthcare providers, including physicians, social workers, nurses, chaplains, and others drawn from different healthcare settings in one Midwestern city. Results: While acknowledging the considerable diversity within the U.S. South Asian community, participants discussed three types of communication challenges they often encounter when serving this population: ensuring effective interpretation, identifying a spokesperson, and challenges posed by different cultural norms. Participants shared strategies to address these challenges such as proactively inquiring about patients' and families' preferences and encouraging early appointment of a spokesperson. Conclusions: While providers should avoid stereotyping patients, an awareness of common challenges and adoption of recommended strategies to address these challenges may enhance the provision of culturally responsive person-centered services for seriously ill South Asian patients and their families receiving care in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-617
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Keywords

  • Communication
  • End-of-life care
  • Qualitative research
  • South Asians
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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