Medline ® Abstract for Reference 43
of 'Communication of prognosis in palliative care'
Communicating in a multicultural society. II: Greek community attitudes towards cancer in Australia.
Goldstein D, Thewes B, Butow P
Intern Med J. 2002 Jul;32(7):289-96.
BACKGROUND: Open and full disclosure of information regarding diagnosis and prognosis is the prevailing approach to cancer patients. However, such a view appears contrary to the preferences of many ethnic groups in Australia.
AIMS: This study sought to examine the range of attitudes to cancer, its treatment and disclosure of information among unaffected Greek adults, as part of an ongoing project to develop culturally appropriate cancer care in Australia.
METHODS: Respondents were recruited from first generation Australian residents. Twenty-nine men and 29 women, half over and half under the age of 60 years, participated. Eight focus groups were conducted by a bilingual facilitator and supplemented with eight individual face to face interviews.
RESULTS: Several areas of misunderstanding were identified concerning the causes and outcomes of cancer. Having a cancer was regarded as a source of shame. Disclosure of diagnosis, but less so prognosis, was favoured, and only to immediate family members. Family members translating for the doctor were reported to commonly alter or 'soften' the doctor's message without the patient's knowledge in order to protect the patient. Greek doctors were favoured, and open discussion of alternative medicines was sought.
CONCLUSIONS: The Greek community is the most established migrant community in Australia, but clearly many of their attitudes to cancer are at variance with what is considered good practice by clinicians. An increased awareness of cultural differences is needed to achieve optimal health outcomes in the diverse communities that make up modern Australia.
Department of Medical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.