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Culture and diversity

April 2010

FocusCulture and diversity

End of life care

The importance of culture and ethnicity

Volume 39, No.4, April 2010 Pages 210-213

End of life care – the importance of culture and ethnicityKatherine Clark MBMS, MMed(pain), FRACP, FAChPM, FACP, is Associate Professor, The Cunningham Centre for Palliative Care, The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sacred Heart Centre, Sydney, New South Wales.

Jane Phillips RN, PhD, is Professor Palliative Nursing, Cunningham Centre for Palliative Care and School of Nursing, The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney, New South Wales.

Background

Australia is a culturally and ethnically diverse country. Within such diversity there will be differing beliefs systems about death and dying. This may be a challenging prospect for health professionals.

Objective

This article discusses how cultural diversity may impact care and provides some strategies for the general practitioner when considering the provision of end of life care.

Discussion

This article does not attempt to provide GPs with a prescriptive approach to multicultural care, as this would run the risk of stereotyping individuals. Rather, it discusses the barriers to end of life care among different cultural and ethnic groups, and suggests ways in which to improve understanding of different cultural needs in end of life care.

Australian society is culturally diverse. The 2006 National Census revealed that only 46% of migrants since 1945 are of Anglo-Celtic origin. Currently, there are almost 400 different languages spoken in Australia, with 79% of the population speaking only English at home.1 After English, the most commonly spoken languages include Greek, Italian, Cantonese, Arabic, Mandarin and Vietnamese (Table 1).

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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Topics

Palliative care

Type

Focus