Beyond translation: engaging with culturally and linguistically diverse consumers

Reema Harrison, Merrilyn Walton, Upma Chitkara, Elizabeth Manias, Ashfaq Chauhan, Monika Latanik, Desiree Leone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Background: In the context of an effective consumer engagement framework, there is potential for health‐care delivery to be safer. Consumers from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds may experience several barriers when trying to engage about their health care, and they are not acknowledged sufficiently in contemporary strategies to facilitate patient engagement.

Methods: Four focus group discussions were facilitated by bilingual fieldworkers in Arabic, Mandarin, Turkish and Dari in a district of Sydney, Australia that has a high proportion of CALD consumers. Each group included 5‐7 health‐care consumers who, using a topic guide, discussed their experiences of barriers and facilitators when engaging with health‐care services in Australia. Thematic analysis was undertaken to identify, analyse and report patterns in the data.

Results: In all, 24 consumers participated. Six inter‐related themes emerged: navigating the health system; seeking meaningful interpretation; understanding and managing expectations; respectful professional care; accessing services; and feeling unsafe.

Conclusions: The incorporation of strategies such as professional interpreters and migrant health workers may go some way to addressing the needs of culturally or linguistically diverse consumers and facilitate communication, but do not sufficiently address the range of barriers to consumer engagement identified in this work. Understanding consumer experience in the context of the complex factors that may be associated with poor engagement and poor outcomes such as health literacy, cultural, educational and linguistic background, and health‐care setting or condition, may contribute to better understanding about how to deliver quality health care to these patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • consumer engagement
  • focus group research
  • health‐care quality
  • migrants
  • patient engagement
  • health-care quality


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