A Systematic Review of Effective Intercultural Communication in Mental Health

Shanna Logan, Zachary Steel, Caroline Hunt


Purpose of the Research: Effective intercultural communication between patients and clinicians is essential for the delivery of high quality health care. To date, there has been no systematic assessment of empirical literature on effective communication within a mental health context, despite theoretical models purporting certain criteria make health communications more effective. The current research aims to determine factors which aid or hinder communication effectiveness in such a context, and to see whether the literature supports Teal and Street’s (2009) theoretical model specifically. Additionally, the review considered the role of language disparity between patients and clinicians within the mental health context.
Method: Electronic databases Medline, Psych Info and Web of Science were searched using an optomised search strategy in June 2014. Studies were considered where intercultural communication between a clinician and patient was a primary focus. To meet inclusion the papers needed to be empirical in nature, written in English, peer-reviewed and of sound quality. Data relating to the study type and analysis used, characteristics of participants (both patients and clinicians), cultural and communication information were extracted.
Results: Eight papers were included in the final review. The results largely support Teal and Street’s model and highlight that nonverbal and verbal behaviour skill, recognition of cultural differences, incorporating cultural knowledge, alongside negotiation and collaboration with patients and family members, all aid in effective communication. Additionally, language barriers were found to pose a significant barrier to communication. The quantity of current literature investigating the effectiveness of intercultural communication specifically within a mental health setting is limited, highlighting the need for further investigation. 


Intercultural communication; Effective communication; Cross-cultural; Mental health services; Patient-clinician relations

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/%25x


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