Intercultural doctor-patient communication in daily outpatient care: relevant communication skills

Albert J. J. A. Scherpbier
Conny M. Seeleman
Emma Paternotte
Fedde Scheele
Lindsay Bank
Sandra van Dulmen
Soort article
Original Research
Clinical practice,
Communication behaviour,
Communication skills,
Doctor-patient communication,
Intercultural communication,
Medical education,
Reflective practice,
Verscheen in

Introduction Intercultural communication (ICC) between doctors and patients is often associated with misunderstandings and dissatisfaction. To develop ICC-specific medical education, it is important to find out which ICC skills medical specialists currently apply in daily clinical consultations.

Methods Doctor-patient consultations of Dutch doctors with non-Dutch patients were videotaped in a multi-ethnic hospital in the Netherlands. The consultations were analyzed using the validated MAAS-Global assessment list in combination with factors influencing ICC, as described in the literature.

Results In total, 39 videotaped consultations were analyzed. The doctors proved to be capable of practising many communication skills, such as listening and empathic communication behaviour. Other skills were not practised, such as being culturally aware and checking the patient’s language ability.

Conclusion We showed that doctors did practice some but not all the relevant ICC skills and that the ICC style of the doctors was mainly biomedically centred. Furthermore, we discussed the possible overlap between intercultural and patient-centred communication. Implications for practice could be to implement the relevant ICC skills in the existing communication training or develop a communication training with a patient-centred approach including ICC skills.


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