54th World Congress on Nursing and Health Care
University West, Sweden
Title: Immigrant parents’ experiences of communicating with healthcare professionals at the neonatal unit
Biography: Katarina Patriksson
Background: When newborn children of immigrants require care in a neonatal unit, parents frequently encounter not only a new language, but also a new healthcare organisation. However, a parent’s ability to actively participate in their child’s care is dependent on the healthcare professional’s ability to communicate with and support them in caring activities
Aim: To examine parents’ experiences of communication with healthcare professionals in a neonatal unit when language barriers are present.
Method: Twenty interviews were conducted with families who spoke Arabic and had a child who had been cared for at one of five neonatal care units, level II-III in western Sweden. The same interpreter was used in all interviews, regardless of hospital site.
The interviews were analysed using a phenomenological hermeneutic approach.
Results: The main theme, having the opportunity to exercise one’s parental role, included four themes encountering emotional warmth, parents reported experiencing emotional warmth from the healthcare professional. Feeling accepted, parents expressed a desire to make themselves understood and communicated with the healthcare professional through an interpreter. Encountering a lack of understanding, when communication between parents and a healthcare professional could only occur through an interpreter, there was a risk of misunderstanding. Compensating for inadequate language skills, when language barriers existed, parents had to find alternative ways to communicate with the healthcare professional to obtain information about their child’s care and treatment.
Conclusion: It is not only language barriers that affect communication between parents and healthcare professionals; different expectations and pre-understandings are also of importance.