What should you consider?
- Build rapport with the person before talking business to help develop the relationship and trust between yourself and the patient. It can also help you identify cultural needs and language, literacy, social or economic barriers likely to impact the patient’s ability to follow medical advice.
- Be aware of your use of language and the patient’s understanding of the information you provide by considering the following:
- Avoid using complex words and medical jargon.
- Use visual aids to assist with communication, where applicable.
- Simple, clear communication is best, however do not oversimplify your language to avoid coming across as patronising.
- Allow time to explain information and for the patient to process it and respond. Silent pauses are valued in Aboriginal culture, to listen and show respect or consensus.
- Include family members in decision making.
- Provide options and ownership in decisions related to managing their health.
- Some Aboriginal patients may culturally require a GP of the same gender and practice staff should be trained to ask whether this is needed when booking appointments with Aboriginal patients. This is important because in some communities (particularly in regional and remote areas) certain topics are specifically men’s or women’s business.
- Consider involvement of an Aboriginal Health Worker or other support care coordinator to help facilitate communication.
- Consider seeking the support of an Indigenous Health Project Officer (IHPO) for your practice, who can help with developing relationships and offering ongoing support to improve a culturally sensitive service provision.
- Aboriginal Health Policy Directorate, 2018, Aboriginal Patient Experience. Review and recommendations for improvement, Department of Health of Western Australia, Perth.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2020 summary report. Cat. no. IHPF 2. Canberra: AIHW.
- Queensland Health. (2015). Communicating effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Jennings, W., Bond, C. and Hill, P.S. (2018). The power of talk and power in talk: a systematic review of Indigenous narratives of culturally safe healthcare communication, Australian Journal of Primary Health, 24, 109-115. https://doi.org/10.1071/PY17082.
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