Overcoming Language & Cultural Barriers


Patient-Physician communication  is a critical part of quality healthcare and physicians must obtain informed consent in order to treat a patient.  But who can you talk to if you don't understand your doctor and/or what he or she expects of you?

What if the patient doesn't speak English?
If an interpreter is needed, patients may
 bring a family member* or community member to assist with verbal communication and written documents.  In some circumstances, interpretation or translation services may be available.  For more information on interpretation or translation services and on informed consent, see the College's policy on Informed Consent and Determining Capacity to Consent.

*An approved interpreer/translator is preferred over a family member.  This can be arranged in advance through several agencies including the Regina Open Door SocietySaskatoon Open Door SocietyCanTalk, the Prince Albert YWCA, or the Réseau Santé en français de la Saskatchewan. The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Saskatchewan also offers a list of independent qualified language professionals.

Help your doctor understand how you express yourself

This should be addressed by your doctor in the relationship building phase. If you feel your communication style or culture, beliefs and traditions are not being understood by the doctor, feel free to address it with him/her. They are here to help and will welcome your feedback.

It is okay for the doctor to ask clarifying questions to better understand the patient’s communication style.