Overbridging linguistic barriers in Namibian healthcare

University essay from Högskolan Väst/Avdelningen för omvårdnad - grundnivå

Abstract: Background: In Namibia there are a lot of different native languages even if the official language is English. Since communication is an important tool for nurses and studies about communication across language barriers mostly is done in western countries, there is need for more knowledge regarding the nurse's experience with language barriers in multilingual and multicultural context, like Namibia. Aim: To describe the experiences of Namibian nurses caring for patients who speak another native language. Method: Qualitative interviews were held with four nurses and one student nurse at Katutura State hospital in Windhoek, Namibia. Results: Two themes with subthemes were identified in the results. The first theme, Establishing the patient-nurse relationship, describes the importance of trust for communication and what the interviewees found important when creating a bond with the patient. The other theme, Establishing the communication, describes the importance of interpretation and how they tackled the language barrier. Conclusion: When meeting a patient with another native language it is of great importance to establish trust with the patient and that interpreters are used. The use of sublingual nurses, who found interpreting to be a natural part of their work, was beneficial.

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