Cross-cultural communication in medicine: questions for educators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Most research into medical communication has had a western setting. It has been undertaken by western researchers and been influential in shaping communication skills curricula. However we know much less about what communication is effective under other circumstances. This article highlights gaps in our knowledge from research in this field, and poses attendant questions for debate by medical educators. We consider the following key aspects of debate on cross-cultural work. (i) To what extent can our understanding of general principles in other cultures be summarized and presented for teaching in a way which does not descend into caricature? Alternatively, can features of other cultures be presented in ways which do not descend into particularity? (ii) Can such paradigms as "patient-centredness" be transferred from culture to culture? Should they be presented across cultures as features of "good" consultations? (iii) What use can be made of the role of interpreters for teaching purposes? What importance does it have to the educator that a doctor may not be a native speaker of the majority language of the culture in which s/he is operating? (iv) Although the language of illness, and particularly metaphors associated with illness, are studied in other cultures, the way in which illness is metaphorized in British English is seldom discussed. What can educators learn and teach from a study of such matters? (v) What are the implications for communication skills teachers of the need to present materials within a culturally diverse environment?

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-261
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Education
Volume35
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2001

Keywords

  • cross-cultural comparison, teaching, physician-patient relations, communication, education, medical, methods, faculty