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Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative
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David Kissane, Barry Bultz, Phyllis Butow, and Ilora Finlay

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199238361

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238361.001.0001

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Intercultural communication in palliative care

Intercultural communication in palliative care

Chapter:
(p.389) Chapter 33 Intercultural communication in palliative care
Source:
Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care
Author(s):

James Hallenbeck

Vyjeyanthi S Periyakoil

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238361.003.0033

Communication occurs in cultural contexts, which are in turn determined by a host of variables — ethnicity, religion, geographic origin, gender, sexual orientation, social role, and age, among others. Anthropologist Edward Hall noted that social interactions and associated communication can be broadly classified as being relatively high or low in their cultural context. Low-context communication is task-oriented, emphasizing straightforward, unambiguous spoken or written communication, while high-context communication embeds large amounts of meaning within the actual situation (or context), within which communication is occurring and tends to compress meanings in spoken, written, and non-verbal communication. Current medical training tends to focus almost exclusively on low-context aspects of communication. This chapter provides an introduction to high-context intercultural communication, as it applies to palliative care, and discusses educational strategies for improving related communication skills. It also examines the relevance of high-context communication to palliative care, the culture of biomedicine, ambiguity, compression of meaning, and subtexts.

Keywords:   intercultural communication, low-context communication, high-context communication, palliative care, subtexts, ambiguity, compression of meaning, biomedicine, communication skills, training

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