understanding people and the health care environment

DISCUSS THE FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE BREAKDOWN BETWEEN HEALTH CARE
PROVIDERS AND PATIENTS FROM A CULTURALLY AND LINGUISTICALLY DIVERSE BACKGROUND,
THEREFORE, DISCUSS INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON COMMUNICATION & ACCESS TO HEALTH
CARE SERVICES AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMUNICATION BARRIERS TO ACCESSING
HEALTH WITH PATIENTS FROM A DIFFERENT CULTURAL BACKGROUND (FOCUS ON REFUGEES
IN AUSTRALIA).
EXPLORE THE IMPACT OF PEOPLE’S ( IMMIGRANTS/REFUGEES/CULTURALLY DIVERSE PEOPLE)
) ENGAGEMENT WITH HEALTH CARE SERVICES.

Understanding people and the health care environment

Understanding people and the health care environment

It is hypothesized that language barrier is an independent variable; which is responsible
for poor access to quality healthcare by Australian Refugees. Several surveys indicate that the
quality of care correlates with the nature of the relationship between the healthcare provider and
the patient. According to Refugee statistics in 2014, there are about 11.7million refuges being
hosted in developed countries; 0.3% of them are hosted in Australia. Additionally, over the last
decades, there has been increased in population of the foreign-born. This rapid growth of refugee
has increased healthcare disparities associated with the language barrier and cultural diversity in
Australia (Clarke et al. 2014).
In this context, culture refers to a pattern of human being behavior; beliefs, practices,
values and other customs. Cultural values and beliefs affect healthcare in many ways. First,
culture affects people’s way of seeking care. Some cultures have different beliefs on disease
etiology which influences the decision making processes; especially when choosing the preferred
type of therapy. Additionally, cultural familiarity with healthcare systems could influence
acceptability of modern care. Cultural aspects, influence people’s way of life such as adapting to
health-related knowledge or lifestyle; in some cases, it influences the relationship and interaction
with the healthcare provider (Artuso et al. 2013)
Culture has many systems; one aspect of systems includes communication and language.
There is a partial overlap between culture and language. For example, refugees who speak French
can be from different parts of the world with distinct culture. Therefore, there is diversity within
the similar language-speaking community; and beyond the broad statistical grouping (Hiruy &
Mwanri 2013). The healthcare conventional model depicts a strong relationship between several
independent variables which influence the ability to access healthcare facility; and to utilize the

Running Head:  Understanding people and the health care environment

3
resources; these variables include predisposing characteristics such as age; sex, and ethnicity
(Davies et al. 2014).
The issues of language barriers are also independent variables which have been identified
to have an effect on healthcare. The language barrier makes people have difficulty in expressing
their signs and symptoms; have difficulty in understanding the foreign medical terminology or
even follow the necessary instructions towards accessing care (Al Abed et al. 2014). For
example, it has been found that non-speaking women are less likely to receive mammogram or
Pap smear test. The research study also found that the nonspeaking community lack regular
primary care; which is associated with a reduced quality of life. The language barrier is
associated with lack of access to healthcare; and is often associated with reduced access to
transport and medical insurance (Mahmoud et al. 2012).
Language and cultural components are often used interchangeably, such that impacts of
culture are often indistinguishable with those of culture. However, proficiency in language does
not necessarily imply that a person understands its cultural values and beliefs. For instance, a
person born in one continent could choose to learn a different language from a dissimilar
continent (Clarke et al. 2014). Though the person may be fluent in speaking and understanding
foreign language, he or she may not understand health values and beliefs, alternative health
remedies and existing rituals. In this context, learning foreign language only improves patient-
doctor communication; but, it would not overcome the prevailing cultural differences and
influences to healthcare systems (Cheng, Drillich & Schattner 2015).
The language barrier causes many individuals to be unfamiliar with health care systems in
Australia. This often results to misunderstandings between healthcare providers and service
users. This makes the service users experience that the health system is crisis oriented; making it

Running Head:  Understanding people and the health care environment

4
difficult for the patient to understand processes in preventive care and schedule appointment. The
recent study on asylum seeking refugees indicated that they did not understand why they would
not receive treatment when they went to hospitals without appointment. Others had different
interpretation and perception of emergency, and would show up in the emergency department
even with no emergency condition (Al Abed et al. 2014).
The language barrier also affects the quality of care to service user as well as patient
satisfaction. The language barrier result to medical errors which put patient safety in danger.
Studies done indicated that medical error incidences were more common when service user and
service providers spoke different languages. The language barrier could result to in accurate
recording of the patient’s medical history, poor communication could also lead to erroneous
prognosis or misdiagnoses. Additionally, language barriers could make patients fail to follow
medical instructions, overtreatment of patients and interfere with medical adherence (Zhang et al.
2015).
The language barrier and cultural barriers influence people’s healthcare literacy. Health
literacy refers to the people’s ability to gather knowledge; process and comprehend the basic
healthcare and social care information. Health literacy is a component of effective
communication and is affiliated with the language barrier (Al Abed et al. 2014). Health literacy is
inversely associated with education attainment and socioeconomic background. However, there
is need to carry out more research to establish the exact relationship between the language
barrier, cultural barriers and servicer user and provider relationship and on specific healthcare
outcomes. The research should look into the role of English /language proficiency, cultural
diversity on health literacy; and how it impacts the patient’s outcome (Clarke et al. 2014).

Running Head:  Understanding people and the health care environment

5

References
Al Abed, N., Hickman, L., Jackson, D., Digiacomo, M. and Davidson, P. (2014). Editorial.
Contemporary Nurse, 46(2), pp.259-262.
Artuso, S., Cargo, M., Brown, A. and Daniel, M. (2013). Factors influencing health care
utilization among Aboriginal cardiac patients in central Australia: a qualitative study. BMC
Health Services Research, 13(1), p.83.
Cheng, I., Drillich, A. and Schattner, P. (2015). Refugee experiences of general practice in
countries of resettlement: a literature review. British Journal of General Practice, 65(632),
pp.e171-e176.
Clark, A., Gilbert, A., Rao, D. and Kerr, L. (2014). Excuse me; do any of you ladies speak
English? Perspectives of refugee women living in South Australia: barriers to accessing
primary health care and achieving the Quality Use of Medicines. Australian Journal of
Primary Health, 20(1), p.92.
Davies, J., Bukulatjpi, S., Sharma, S., Davis, J. and Johnston, V. (2014). Only your blood can tell
the story€ – a qualitative research study using semi- structured interviews to explore the
hepatitis B related knowledge, perceptions and experiences of remote dwelling Indigenous
Australians and their health care providers in northern Australia. BMC Public Health, 14(1),
p.1233.
Hiruy, K. and Mwanri, L. (2013). End-of-life experiences and expectations of Africans in
Australia: Cultural implications for palliative and hospice care. Nursing Ethics, 21(2),
pp.187-197.
Mahmoud, I., Hou, X., Chu, K. and Clark, M. (2012). Language and utilisation of emergency
care in Queensland. Emerg Med Australas, 25(1), pp.40-45.
Zhang, X., Yu, P., Yan, J. and Ton A M Spil, I. (2015). Using diffusion of innovation theory to
understand the factors impacting patient acceptance and use of consumer e-health
innovations: a case study in a primary care clinic. BMC Health Services Research, 15(1).

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