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Intercultural Competence and Communication over Language Barriers

  • Pernilla PergertEmail author
  • Elisabet Tiselius
Chapter

Abstract

Intercultural healthcare refers to when people of different cultures and languages communicate and interact in the healthcare context. Intercultural competence (also referred to as simply cultural competence) is crucial for providing culturally congruent and meaningful care. Such competence has been described as a process in healthcare interactions and systems that aim to increase equity and reduce disparities in care. Intercultural competence shares core components with patient-centred care, but patient-centred care is difficult when the patients’ values conflict with those of the healthcare professionals and systems. Since cultural diversity can lead to conflicts about fundamental values, intercultural healthcare requires that professionals have opportunities and skills to deal with value conflicts. We present a relational ethics approach for intercultural competence. The basic ideas of both relational ethics and intercultural competence are that they exist in relationships, the context is important, and true dialogue is the core. This chapter explains the components of intercultural competence, including intercultural dialogue, intercultural reflection, and intercultural learning. Furthermore, communication over language barriers is critical to enabling intercultural dialogue and should continuously be developed through intercultural learning in the process of understanding and adapting to the other. We will also discuss professional interpreters’ impact on cultural learning and mutual understanding in the intercultural healthcare context. We argue that healthcare professionals need to learn effective interpreting use as part of intercultural competence.

Keywords

Cultural competence Language barriers Communication Interpreter Intercultural learning Relational ethics 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The first author would like to acknowledge the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund for financial support (FoAss13/017).

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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Women’s and Children’s HealthKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Paediatric Oncology, Karolinska University HospitalStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies, Department of Swedish Language and MultilingualismStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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