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Health Communication in Multicultural Societies

Elisabeth Ahlsén, University of Gothenburg

Claire Penn, University of the Witwatersrand

This collaborative project will examine the dynamics of intercultural health care interactions where a language barrier is present. The focus of research will be on interactions between professionals and patients with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and on interactions involving persons with acquired language disorders. The planned project will use databases and material containing health care interactions from South Africa and Sweden.

The project will build on prior research conducted by both collaborators in the field of acquired language disorder (aphasia) in adults. This research has explored multimodal communication using speech, gestures, facial expressions and drawing in conversation. The use of gestures and code switching between different languages and the role of these and other strategies for contact and sharing of information is of special interest in the project. The potential application of this work to other populations has become increasingly evident, especially in multicultural contexts. Therefore, the project will study health care communication in the South African multicultural context as well as multicultural doctor-patient interactions involving foreign doctors in Sweden.

The results of the project will increase our theoretical knowledge about communicative processes and they will point to direct possibilities for application in education about health care interaction, intercultural communication and effective strategies in interactions involving persons with language disorders. The purpose of the planning project is to plan and write an application for an international collaborative project. This will be done through mutual visits, with studies of the databases and workshops with the planned research teams in Sweden and South Africa.

Page Manager: Pavel Rodin|Last update: 1/28/2011

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