Paper in Patient Education and Counseling
  • Shaw, J., Zou, X., Butow, P. (2015). Treatment decision making experiences of migrant cancer patients and their families in Australia. Patient Education and Counseling, 98 (6) pp. 742-747.

    To explore treatment decision-making experiences of Australian migrants with cancer from Arabic, Chinese, or Greek backgrounds and their relatives.

    73 patients and 18 caregivers from cancer support groups and oncology clinics participated in either a focus group (. n=. 14) or semi-structured interview (. n=. 21) conducted in the participant's own language. Participant treatment decision-making preferences were discussed as part of patients' overall treatment experience and a thematic analysis conducted.

    Four main themes emerged from the data: (1) perceived role of the patient in decision-making; (2) access to information and the impact of language; (3) cultural influences (4) family involvement. The majority of participants experienced passive involvement during treatment consultations, but expressed a desire for greater involvement. Language rather than culture was a greater obstacle to active participation. Difficulty communicating effectively in English was the most significant barrier to participation in treatment decisions. To overcome language challenges, participants actively sought information from alternative sources.

    This study provides new insights into the influence of language and culture on the treatment decision-making experiences of migrants with cancer and their families within the Australian cancer care system.

    Practice implications:
    To reduce health disparities doctors need to address language difficulties and be aware of cultural differences.