Cross-cultural Communication Barriers in Zambian Healthcare: Implications for Patient Care

Chishiba Gerald *

Department of Arts, Linguistics and Literary Studies, The University of Zambia, Zambia.

Lunda Victor

Department of Arts, Linguistics and Literary Studies, The University of Zambia, Zambia.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Abstract

Some members of the Zambian society have frequently raised concerns over errors and delays observed during the treatment of patients in clinics and hospitals. They have argued that these challenges could have been caused by inadequate communication between the medical staff and their patients. This article looks specifically at the cross-cultural communication barriers that are found in healthcare and their implications on patient care.  In this study, we focus on a number of cross-cultural challenges that have frequently hindered effective communication between health care providers and their patients in two public medical facilities in our Country. The study specifically concentrated on two public health institutions, namely: Katondo clinic and Kabwe General Hospital. A qualitative research design was deemed most appropriate, because it allowed for a deep exploration of the subjective experiences and perspectives of both healthcare workers and patients. Semi-structured interview questions were used to gather in-depth insights from participants. In addition, observations of interactions between healthcare providers and their patients at Katondo Clinic and the General hospital were also conducted as part of the study. We thereafter analysed data collected. The findings of this research work revealed that the main cross-cultural barriers to communication are language, ethnocentrism, conflicting value and psychological issues, just to mention a few. The results further revealed a number of serious linguistic and cultural challenges hindering communication between the medical staff and their patients, such as language differences, limited or absence of professional interpreting services, as well as inadequate cultural and linguistic competence among the medical experts. These challenges have, in many instances, resulted in inappropriate health service delivery. Many a scholar have argued that language plays an important role in human organisations such as the Ministry of Health. This study concluded, inter alia, that a deliberate language policy framework should be developed, in order to address the communication challenges between the health care providers and their patients in Zambia. It should be hoped that once the language policy has been put in place, it will significantly reduce the communication challenges between the two parties. Furthermore, Health facilities should consider training or employing qualified interpreters.

Keywords: Health care providers, cross-cultural communication barriers, language policy framework, effective communication


How to Cite

Gerald, Chishiba, and Lunda Victor. 2024. “Cross-Cultural Communication Barriers in Zambian Healthcare: Implications for Patient Care”. Advances in Research 25 (4):200-206. https://doi.org/10.9734/air/2024/v25i41097.

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