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Language barriers between community pharmacist and immigrants. Identifying coping strategies with Design Thinking method.

  • At: PPR SIG 2021 (2021)
  • Type: Digital
  • By: NGUYEN, Nhu Nhu (University of Oslo , Norway)
  • Co-author(s): Nguyen, Nhu Nhu.
  • Abstract:


    In 2020, immigrants constitute 15% of the Norwegian population. Health information is rarely available in other languages than Norwegian or English, and miscommunication may result reduced adherence and medication errors. Health professionals and community pharmacists may find it challenging to provide adequate care when they serve immigrant customers with limited Norwegian language skills.


    To identify coping strategies community pharmacists used to overcome language barriers when they counsel immigrant customers. To develop and test a communication tool that can reduce language barriers, which may improve the provision of pharmaceutical care.


    Applied Design Thinking method is used to enhance innovation and solve ill-defined problems. During the empathy stage, there were conducted a mixed method consisting of a questionnaire, face-to-face interviews and an observational study to gather human-centered insights. A visual communication tool was invented (comic strips). The prototype was tested by pharmacy customers with Vietnamese background and by pharmacy staff, to obtain feedbacks to further refine the prototype.


    Pharmacy staff (n=72) in the survey conferred with bilingual staff, used Google Translate or an ad hoc interpreter to communicate with immigrant customers. Observation of immigrant customers (n=150 observations) and pharmacy staff provided useful insight about what kind of communication strategies were used when language barriers occurred. A prototype of comic strips was developed, illustrating 9 situations that aims to reduce medication errors. The prototype was tested on 5 immigrant customers from Vietnam, and they gave feedbacks to modify the comic strips. Pharmacy staff (n=4) applied the comic strips in their counselling with immigrant customers and gave feedbacks about their experiences.


    Language barriers often occurred between pharmacy staff and immigrant customers limited Norwegian proficiency. The comic strips were developed to be self-explanatory but combining oral communication with visual aids may improve provision care, which results improved comprehension and reduced medication errors.

Last update 4 October 2019

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