|Scooped by Hung The Nguyen|
Why is using local language of indigenous people important? Do we need to be conversant in indigenous languages to ensure desired outcomes from our consultations with indigenous patients?
It is about respect: In a remote Pintubi community a GP trainee enlisted a community member to teach him the local language - its structure, common phrases used in consultations and parts of the body. These short daily lessons included tutorials on the local cultural norms. The community talked about the doctor's efforts. Although the doctor struggled to speak the local language he noted a change in community members towards him in the clinic and outside the clinic.
Its about rapport: In a remote Nunggubuyu community the resident doctor in his consultations asked the accompanying children to help him communicate with their parents, aunts/uncles and grandparents. Often he purposefully made a fool of himself by tripping over words. He got laughs from the kids. It relaxes the adults. The communication then flowed better.
Its about appropriate cultural communication: In a remote Yolngu community the phrases used in another language may not be a direct translation. There are ways of saying things that is in keeping with the cultural values of the local community. In a high power distance culture, it is normal for doctors to order patients to do things to help with the physical examination for example. In a collectivist culture there may be a number of ways to say "we" or "you" (singular, 2-3 people or more than 3 people). Understanding these nuances in the language helps to understand the indigenous cultural values.
So by all means use the local language. This app can help if you are working in the NT of Australia. But don't be too concerned about being fluent in the local language before you use it. There are other reasons besides being understood that can help effective communication in a GP consultation.