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Home > Arhiva > 2014 > Numar: 2 > Considerations Regarding the Impact of Cultural and Legal Aspects on Doctor – Roma Patient Communication – A Case Study

 Considerations Regarding the Impact of Cultural and Legal Aspects on Doctor – Roma Patient Communication – A Case Study

  • Andrada Parvu ([“Iuliu Hatieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Hematology Department, no. 73, Bd. 21 Decembrie 1989, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. E-mail: ])

Communicating with ethnic minority patients is challenging for the physician, who needs to balance the former’s cultural values and the law. For a better and holistic approach of these patients the health care team should be multidisciplinary (including a social worker, a psychologist and for the Roma patient a health mediator).This paper analyses an interview with a Roma cancer patient belonging to an ample research on Romanian Roma patients determining their cultural particularities in the context of terminal disease.The surgically-treated patient states that she learned the diagnosis from the laboratory’s staff because her physician preferred talking to her husband.We highlight two issues: the breach of confidentiality (the physician’s choice to explain the diagnosis to the patient’s husband, despite the patient being competent, and the laboratory’s staff, who told the patient her diagnosis, despite her not divulging her true identity). Second, the doctor’s failure in knowing his patient’s cultural characteristics (preference that only blood relatives know her medical information). Conclusions highlight the importance of improving the doctor-patient communication, complying with current law and knowing that a patient’s wants and needs are influenced by ethnicity. We discuss the important role of a social worker, a psychologist or a Roma health mediator in the management of this case. One of these specialists might explore the patient’s wishes in decision-making process (influenced by the patient’s culture) and could inform and help the medical staff to adapt the medical care to the patient’s cultural values.

Keywords: ethnicity, Roma patient, doctor-patient communication, cultural values