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Addressing cultural diversity: the hepatitis B clinical specialist perspective.

Ethn Health; : 1-13, 2017 Aug 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28854823

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Hepatitis B is a viral infection primarily affecting people from culturally diverse communities in Australia. While vaccination prevents infection, there is increasing mortality resulting from liver damage associated with chronic infection. Deficits in the national policy and clinical response to hepatitis B result in a low diagnosis rate, inadequate testing and diagnosis processes, and poor access to hepatitis B treatment services. While research identifies inadequate hepatitis B knowledge among people with the virus and primary health care workers, this project sought to identify how specialist clinicians in Australia negotiate cultural diversity, and provide often complex clinical information to people with hepatitis B. DESIGN: A vignette was developed and presented to thirteen viral hepatitis specialist clinicians prior to an electronically recorded interview. Recruitment continued until saturation of themes was reached. Data were thematically coded into themes outlined in the interview schedule. Ethical approval for the research was provided by the La Trobe University Human Research Ethics Committee. RESULTS: Key messages provided to patients with hepatitis B by clinical specialists were identified. These messages were not consistently provided to all patients with hepatitis B, but were determined on perceptions of patient knowledge, age and highest educational level. While the vignette stated that English was not an issue for the patient, most specialists identified the need for an interpreter. Combating stigma related to hepatitis B was seen as important by the specialists and this was done through normalising the virus. Having an awareness of different cultural understandings about hepatitis B specifically, and health and well-being generally, was noted as a communication strategy. CONCLUSION: Key core competencies need to be developed to deliver educational messages to people with hepatitis B within clinical encounters. The provision of adequate resources to specialist clinics will assist in addressing gaps in the clinical response to hepatitis B.