Barriers to effective communication in health care


Barriers to effective communication in a multi-cultural work setting such as health care setting occur as people from diverse culture and with different customs and beliefs interact besides difficulty in communicating with people speaking a different language. There exist other factors hindering people from working harmoniously together with others from diverse backgrounds because people have different ways of displaying their behaviors and emotions which eventually lead to ineffective communication in the health care setting.

Barriers to effective communication with a professional colleague and effects on patient outcomes

Barriers to effective communication among professional colleagues with diverse cultures occur and affect patient`s health care and outcome. Some of these barriers include; first, speaking different languages adversely affect effective communication because language is an important pillar in providing health care to patients and especially understanding each other as professional colleagues while providing care to patients. Speaking different languages among colleagues with different cultures lead to misunderstanding while providing health care to patients. Second, individual behavior among colleagues with diverse cultures lead to misunderstanding for example while talking in some cultures when talking people stand closer to each other while others give space. These different behaviors if not realized may become barriers to effective communication in the health care sector. Thirdly, the display of emotions in different cultures is a barrier to effective communication. What is considered the appropriate way of displaying emotions differs across cultures, for example, expressing emotions such as anger frustrations or fear in some cultures is appropriate while it is inappropriate in other cultures hence become a barrier to effective communication. Besides some of the outcomes of ineffective communication to patients are; poor assessment of patients, wrong diagnosis and treatment, misunderstanding patient condition and wrong prescription.

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Assumptions and impact on communication

The most common assumption that would arise is that we are all the same with the other professional colleague, for example, the assumption would be that we all communicate in a similar manner. The assumption we are all the same and communicate in a similar manner leads to ineffective communication in health care sector thus negatively affecting patient outcome.
Strategies to overcome language barriers and improve motivation
Several strategies to overcome language barriers in health care need to be implemented. These include; employing staff who can speak different languages spoken by the patients, second, hospitals would use trained interpreters and offering of interpreting skills to volunteers as well as the use of universal recognized symbols for communication. All these help in improving communication in the health care setting and motivate health care workers as they offer services to patients.
Importance of improving cultural competences
It is very crucial to take responsibility to improve cultural competencies so as to provide quality health care services to patients hence better outcome. Improving cultural competence also help in eliminating ethnic and racial differences. Examples of such strategies include; offering training relevant on improving cultural competences and cultural issues among health care workers as well as making policies that help alleviate barriers related to administration and language.

Language barriers with patients who speak limited English

Health care providers experience language-related barriers while speaking with a patient who understands little English in ways such as; lack of clear speech, for example, the patient speaking in a low tone or softly owing the little understanding of the language the receiver may not get the meaning of words. Secondly, choice of words for example words with two different meanings may be wrongly chosen by the patient hence miscommunication occurs. Thirdly literacy skills, for example, a patient with very low vocabulary may not communicate effectively. Additionally, spelling and grammar problems is a big barrier to effective communication, for example, a patient type don instead of done while communicating lead to misunderstanding.
Adjusting to conflicting values from patients and adjusting dietary restrictions
The most effective way of adjusting to conflicting values among patients from different religion or culture is through the identification of personal beliefs and customs before providing health care to them. For that reason, health care professional ought to know their cultural beliefs to avoid biases that hinder therapeutic relationships with patients. For example, some patients may practice certain healing rituals such as using herbs for treatment which the nurse may see it as primitive hence it is important to appreciate their culture first. However dietary restrictions among patients from the diverse cultural background would be adjusted through giving of health education on the nutritional values of the culturally forbidden food. To do this effectively the dietary department would be involved through the proper communication channel. They can handle such matters by explaining to patients and if possible involve religious leaders from the specific culture or religion so that they be sensitized on the need to adjust their dietary restrictions and habits

Benefits of providing cultural awareness and training for employees
Providing health care awareness and training to employees in health care organizations has benefits to both health organizations and health care professionals. These benefits include; enhancing respect between health care workers and patients hence improving the quality of care to the patients. Again awareness enhances trust between patients and health care workers hence patients can trust the kind of care given by the health professionals. Additionally, cultural awareness empowers patients towards the care that they should receive for example they get empowered in terms of individual care. Also creating cultural awareness promote the responsibility of patients towards their care. Additionally providing cultural awareness to employees empowers them to offer quality health care services to clients from different backgrounds with diverse beliefs and behaviors for example employees having the ability to take part in patient education on their health needs and how to deal with them. The current health organization provides cultural awareness and training to its employees that go beyond speaking a patient language to getting to understand and embrace client`s culture and beliefs for example use of healers or remedies such as herbal medicine.
The African-American culture
The African- American people have different religious beliefs, customs and traditions however there exist similarities among them when dealing with aspects of death and morning. For example, all family members with friends and any other relative is expected to be in attendance of a funeral service. However sometimes a funeral service is postponed until each family member, friends and relatives arrive. Among the southern American black families, the following customs exist in regard to morning and dealing with death; first, a flower girl who is a female partner of the deceased give unique attention to the family members during their grieving period. Second, during the morning a nurse can be present to help a mourner when overwhelmed. Thirdly, there is the provision of musical therapy by a chosen choir or friends. Fourth, they decorate coffins with flowers and finally, they put personal equipment on the grave after burial.
In conclusion, it is evident that we face barriers to effective communication in the health care setting as a result of interaction with patients and colleagues from different background and culture. These barriers would occur between health professionals themselves or with patients and therefore there is a great need to initiate ways of overcoming these barriers so as to improve the quality of patient care and better health outcomes. On the other hand, health workers need to be aware of conflicting values from patients and how to adjust. Most importantly health care organizations need to recognize the benefits of creating cultural awareness and training to health professionals for better patient outcome care.

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