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An exploration of South Asian women’s experiences following abnormal Pap smear results Singh, Savitri W.

Abstract

Little information exists about South Asian women's experiences following abnormal cervical screening results particularly within the context of current health care services and structures, and regarding their perceptions of the adequacy of the information, counseling and support provided. This ethnographic study approached this problem by examining South Asian women's descriptions of their experiences of receiving abnormal Pap test results and of their follow-up diagnostic evaluations. Twelve women, five nurses, and six physicians from two colposcopy clinic participated in the study. Two family physicians from family practice were also included. Data was collected via audio-taped open-ended interviews and journaling. Data analysis proceeded simultaneously with the data collection. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed for common themes. Obvious issues such as language, cultural values, and beliefs, along with underlying societal, individual and institutional factors that co-exist with health care providers' ability to effectively communicate were described by the participants. Some women believed that healthcare providers hold assumptions that stereotype South Asian women. Although some health-care providers attempt to provide culturally sensitive care including the use of professional interpreters and language-specific printed information for women who do not speak English, others lack the resources to provide such care. In light of these findings, educational approaches are recommended for nurses and physicians that help to raise critical consciousness and foster awareness including the need to pay close attention to diversity and difference. Basic and continuing education that address the importance of individual assessments would enhance nurses' ability to identify women's individual needs and would help to reduce reliance on stereotypical descriptors of ethno-cultural groups. Future research to examine discourses in relation to cancer and how language is used when notifying women about their diagnosis is also recommended.

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