Prognostic communication preferences of migrant patients and their relatives

D. Mitchison*, P. Butow, M. Sze, L. Aldridge, R. Hui, J. Vardy, M. Eisenbruch, R. Iedema, D. Goldstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Migrant patients comprise a significant proportion of Western oncologists' clientele. Although previous research has found that barriers exist in the communication between ethnically diverse patients and health professionals, little is known about their personal preferences for communication and information, or the concordance of views held between patients and family members. Methods: Seventy-three patients (31 Anglo-Australians, and 20 Chinese, 11 Arabic and 11 Greek migrants) and 65 relatives (25 Anglo-Australians, and 23 Chinese, 11 Arabic and 7 Greek migrants) were recruited through nine Sydney oncology clinics. Following prognostic consultations, participants were interviewed in their preferred language about their experiences and ideals regarding information and communication with oncologists. Interviews were audio-taped, translated and transcribed, and then thematically analysed using N-Vivo software. Results: Consistency was found in patient preferences, regardless of ethnicity, in that almost all patients preferred prognostic information to be delivered in a caring and personalised manner from an authoritative oncologist. Contrary to previous research, migrant patients often expressed a desire for prognostic disclosure. Discordance was found between migrant patients and their families. These families displayed traditional non-Western preferences of non-disclosure of prognosis and wanted to actively influence consultations by meeting with oncologists separately beforehand and directing the oncologists on what and how information should be conveyed to patients. Conclusions: Many of the communication issues facing patients in the metastatic cancer setting are shared amongst Anglo-Australian and migrant patients alike. Understanding the dynamics within migrant families is also an important component in providing culturally sensitive communication. Future directions for research are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-504
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


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