Cultural racism, language prejudice and discrimination in hospital contexts : an Australian study

Johnstone, Megan-Jane and Kanitsaki, Olga 2008, Cultural racism, language prejudice and discrimination in hospital contexts : an Australian study, Diversity in health and social care, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 19-30.

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Title Cultural racism, language prejudice and discrimination in hospital contexts : an Australian study
Author(s) Johnstone, Megan-Jane
Kanitsaki, Olga
Journal name Diversity in health and social care
Volume number 5
Issue number 1
Start page 19
End page 30
Total pages 12
Publisher Radcliffe Publishing Ltd
Place of publication Abingdon, England
Publication date 2008-03
ISSN 1743-1913
Keyword(s) Australia
cultural racism
ethnic minorities
language prejudice
patient safety
Summary This article explores the idea that racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare may be expressive of unacknowledged practices of cultural racism. In conducting this exploration, the researchers identify, describe and discuss the practice of language prejudice and discrimination by health service providers, discovered serendipitously in the context of a broader study exploring cultural safety and cultural competency in an Australian healthcare context. The original study involved individual and focus groups interviews with 145 participants recruited from over 17 different organisational and domestic home sites. Participants included health service managers, ethnic liaison officers, qualified health interpreters, cultural trainers/educators, ethnic welfare organisation staff, registered nurses, allied health professionals, and healthcare consumers. Participants self-identified as being from over 27 different ethnocultural and language backgrounds.

Analysis of the data revealed that English language proficiency, like skin colour, was used as a social marker to classify, categorise, and negatively evaluate people of non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB) in the contexts studied. Negative evaluations, in turn, were used to justify the exclusion of NESB people from healthcare relationships and resources. Further data analysis revealed that underpinning the negative attitudes and behaviours in hospital domains concerning people who spoke accented English or who did not speak English proficiently were a dislike of difference, fear of difference, intolerance of difference, fear of competition for scarce healthcare resources, repressed hostility toward difference, and ignorance.

Highlighting the implications of language prejudice for the safety and quality care of NESB people, the researchers call for further internationally comparative research and debate on the subject.
Language eng
Field of Research 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2008
Copyright notice ©2008, Radcliffe Publishing
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Nursing and Midwifery
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