The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

Medical staff require training on intercultural awareness

Medical staff require professional interpreters and specific training on intercultural awareness, a new study published in the open access journal BMC Health Services Research suggests. The authors reveal that doctors are dissatisfied with the treatment they provide to their non-native patients, and that they cite cultural differences and language barriers as the key factors causing the disappointment with the level of care that they provide.

Birgit Babitsch from the Berlin Institute of Gender in Medicine in Germany, and co-workers from Berlin and the UK, gathered the results of questionnaires completed by doctors working in the internal medicine and gynaecology departments of three Berlin hospitals. The responses were then narrowed down to those relating to native Germans and those of Turkish origin and analysed in conjunction with the patients’ medical records. Over 2400 doctor questionnaires and corresponding patient records were finally analyzed.

The researchers found that doctors’ dissatisfaction with the patient-doctor relationship was much greater with regard to their Turkish patients. The two main reasons given were communication difficulties and the doctors’ perceptions that the Turkish patients did not always require urgent treatment. Around 20% of doctors were dissatisfied with the course of treatment for Turkish patients, compared to 10% for German patients. Minor differences were found in doctors’ satisfaction with regard to the patient’s gender.

Dr Babitsch states: “The use of professional interpreters for improved communication and the training of medical staff for improved intercultural competence are essential for the provision of adequate health care in a multicultural setting.”

Read more > EurekAlert
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Home Office on course to meet diversity targets

Targets for the recruitment and retention of staff from minority ethnic communities are on course to be met across the core Home Office, a report published today revealed.

The eighth annual Race Employment Targets Report shows progress against the Home Office's 10-year race equality employment targets. The Border and Immigration Agency, Identity and Passport Service, the Forensic Science Service and the core Home Office areas all exceeded their aims.

The news comes just days after a new mentoring scheme aimed at preparing black and minority ethnic (BME) staff for leadership roles in the Civil Service has been put into action.

Read more > Home Office 
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Language and Culture are issues for midwives

Language and Culture are issues for midwives
The UK's population is growing. Part of that increase is fuelled by women from other countries having children here.

And as the Local Government Association (LGA), representing 400 councils in England and Wales, outlines to a House of Lords select committee how migration stretches community services, one midwife tells how the changes affect her.


For midwife Jayne Cozens, going to work these days is also becoming something of a geography lesson.

She has worked in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, for 12 years, and her caseloads are containing increasing numbers of foreign nationals from across the globe.

Language and culture are becoming more of an issue, as Mrs Cozens' job becomes ever more multi-cultural and multi-lingual.

"It can be a challenge explaining to a 17-year-old English girl what an amniocentesis is, let alone to a teenager from abroad who doesn't speak the language," she says.

There are cultural issues, too, which midwives must handle in the course of giving their advice to non-UK nationals.

"Chinese families tend to sleep together in the same room and the same bed.

"Children, new baby, mum and dad are all together. It's what they're used to, so you go to a house and there's a couple of mattresses on the floor.

"But our advice in relation to cot death is for women to not sleep with their babies, so if you have the whole family in together then that presents a problem."

Mrs Cozens said that in the course of her work "you do learn a few words" but that this is not enough to clearly explain the full message.

Read more> Language & Culture
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