My colleagues Dr Cathy O’Callaghan, An Tran, Nancy Tam, A/Prof Li Ming Wen and I published an article on a pilot telephone health coaching program for Chinese Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking communities, which uses bilingual coaches and translated materials. The study found that:
The bilingual program was culturally and linguistically appropriate and addressed risk factors for chronic conditions. Participants formed positive relationships with bilingual coaches who they preferred to interpreters. They felt the program promoted healthy eating, weight and physical activity. Although Chinese stakeholders had concerns about participants’ ability to goal set, participants said they met their health goals and were committed to the GHS program. Strategies to enhance the program included promoting the bilingual GHS to the communities and stakeholders. Factors to consider beyond language in adapting the program to the Australian Chinese communities include meeting the heterogenous needs of the older population, ensuring community engagement and addressing cultural beliefs and practices.
The aspects of the study that I found interesting were that:
- translation alone definitely isn’t enough to make a program culturally appropriate and relevant (which we knew but was good to have confirmed)
- there were a broad range of health beliefs, priorities and attitudes amongst participants, highlighting that even within a relatively narrowly defined population such as this pilot, there is considerable diversity
- bilingual staff were clearly preferred to interpreters.
These points are all relevant to other bilingual and culturally targeted health programs. If you have any trouble accessing the article please let me know.