Exploring communication between first language english speaking audiologists and Isizulu patients at public sector hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.
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Effective communication between health professionals and patients is central in providing quality health care. A cultural and linguistic mismatch between audiologists and their patients may create a barrier in communication. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to explore communication between First Language English speaking (FLES) audiologists and isiZulu patients, based on isiZulu being dominant in KZN. A concurrent triangulation mixed design was used. The study consisted of three phases. The first phase included a survey of 31 FLES audiologists. The second phase included the Photovoice narratives and interviews with two FLES audiologists. The final phase included a survey of 98 isiZulu patients. The results revealed that overall FLES audiologists showed poor cultural (71%) and linguistic (97%) competency in isiZulu. Inferential statistics revealed significant associations between cultural competency and FLES audiologists years of experience (p value=0,021), gender (p value=0.042) and type of institution based in terms of rural or urban (p value=0.038).The above competency levels of FLES audiologists coincided with the perspectives of isiZulu patients. Furthermore, it was revealed that factors such as consent, trust, collaboration, empathy, attitude and professional superiority influenced cross cultural and cross linguistic communication between FLES audiologists and isiZulu patients. The use of informal interpreters emerged as the most common communication strategy employed by FLES audiologists. The implementation of isiZulu courses, formally-trained interpreters and isiZulu audiology resources emerged as strong recommendations. In addition, FLES audiologists identified initiative as important to improving cross cultural/linguistic communication. The results from this study may inform changes to University curricular as well as policy at public sector hospitals.