Doctor-patient Communication Issues for International Medical Graduates: Research Findings from Australia
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Introduction: Understanding the impact of culture on medical communication is particularly important for international medical graduates (IMGs) who enter health systems from different cultures of origin. This article presents data on IMGs' perception of the impact of cultural factors on IMG doctor-patient communication during their integration into the Australian health system. Methods: The methodology used was a descriptive qualitative methodology, using iterative, open-ended, in-depth interviews with a sample of 30 IMGs employed at a hospital in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Results: According to subjects' comments, understanding patient-centered communication is a major challenge faced by IMGs during integration in the Australian health system. They perceive that this difficulty is associated with the major shift from the culture of their country of origin (described as paternalistic doctor-dominated communication system; standard practice to talk to the family and not the patient) to the very different health care culture of Australia (perceived to be more educated and informed consumers that demand high levels of information and discussion). The findings detail IMGs' experience with learning about patient-centered communication at the point of arrival, during integration and practice. Subjects' perceived the need to provide education on patient-centered communication for IMGs integrating into the Australian health system. Conclusion: There is a significant need for IMGs to be educated in cultural issues including doctor-patient communication practices in Australia.
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