A qualitative study on cross-cultural communication in post-accident in-patient rehabilitation of migrant and ethnic minority patients in Austria.Disabil Rehabil. 2009; 31(14):1181-90.DR
The objective of this study was to examine how the staff of a post-accident in-patient rehabilitation centre in Austria perceived cross-cultural communication between the staff and migrant and ethnic minority patients.
A qualitative study was conducted with 28 semi-structured expert interviews with staff members in a post-accident in-patient rehabilitation centre in Austria. The interviews were conducted along the pathway of rehabilitation.
Migrant and ethnic minority patients constitute about one-third of the patients, and often speak little or no German. Staff members (apart from those with migrant/ethnic minority origin) do not speak the languages of the majority of migrant and ethnic minority patients. The language barriers affect the whole rehabilitation process. The staff is unsure whether patients understand; it is difficult to explain the aim of therapies or rehabilitation, and therapies therefore hampered or impossible. To overcome these barriers, non-trained persons are used as interpreters, but the resulting communication is often perceived as unsatisfactory. External professional interpreters are used rarely because they are costly and difficult to organise. Cultural aspects also affect cross-cultural communication. Aspects mostly relating to daily life are dealt with in a pragmatic way. However, cultural aspects directly impacting rehabilitation, and particularly pain behaviour, are seen as more difficult to deal with.
Effective and intensive communication between the individual patient and the rehabilitation team is essential for the outcome of rehabilitation, as patients must undertake their own rehabilitation and the rehabilitation team must be able to investigate the objectives, views and dreams of the individual patient to establish rehabilitation objectives in keeping with the patient's wishes.