Provision Professional Interpreter

Key to providing high-quality radiotherapy treatment is effective communication. Positive outcomes, such as decreased guilt, pain, disease symptoms, and anxiety, are acquired when a radiotherapist has effective communication skills. However, on certain occasions, the relationship between a radiotherapist and a patient does not always yield expected results. This is because of communication barriers existing between the healthcare professional and the patient. In this section, the potential barriers to effective communication within the radiotherapy environment are discussed, along with suggestions of how they might be minimized.

In this ever diverse world, radiotherapists, in many scenarios, will encounter patients with different cultural backgrounds, communication styles, and languages. Cross-cultural communication becomes a challenge and this necessitates the presence of interpreters. In nations such as England, where English is the first recognized language, radiotherapists encounter problems while working with non-English speaking patients. Normally, a bilingual radiotherapist would be essential, but they are limited in number and patients may choose to communicate using aid from a professional interpreter. In the absence of a professional interpreter, a crystallized barrier is present between a radiotherapist and a limited English patient (LEP). This barrier has a deleterious impact as it results in misunderstandings which translate to misdiagnoses being made. Eventually, wrong treatments are given to the patient (Li, et al., 2017).


To minimize the barrier of the absence of professional interpreters, the nation can establish new policies, such as the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in the United States (Li, et al., 2017). The policies will provide a practical framework for radiotherapists to implement so as to have professional interpreters present to enhance better communication with LEP.

Effective communication is hindered by psychological stressors such as personality traits, poor self-esteem, psychological disorders, and anxiety issues. In some cases, a radiologist could be anxious about the needs of a patient due to being unfamiliar with the situation, fearing rejection, or having past experiences which were negative. Additional challenges are faced where clients have intellectual disabilities or could be having dementia and this affects the manner in which they relay information (Brandenburg, 2017).

To minimize psychological barriers, radiotherapists can be taken through training that will improve their communication skills. With a good communication training, the medical profession will experience fewer adverse psychological impacts and they will be able to meet demands for their job. A radiotherapist will learn to be patient with clients and have fewer frustrations. In the case where a patient has intellectual disabilities, the health professional can set up an environment which is quiet and free from any distractions which will allow the patient to be focused (Brandenburg, 2017).

Radiotherapists will interact with multicultural patients. People from different cultures have different beliefs and way of interacting, especially through non-verbal communication. Interpreters may not satisfy the need to clarify contextual differences arising from cultural beliefs during nonverbal communication. For instance, there exist cultures which have high restrain for emotions such that touching in public is prohibited, and there are cultures which approve consistent touching between people of the same gender (Brandenburg, 2017). Patients from Arabic and Latino cultures will commonly exaggerate their expressions in time of grief or sorrow. Some cultures in the west approve eye contact during communication as it indicates that the medical profession has sufficient knowledge concerning their subject. Some African and Asian cultures avoid making eye contact as a way of showing respect to the speaker (Brandenburg, 2017).

To minimize this communication barrier, it is recommended that radiotherapists increase their awareness of non-verbal communication styles and kinesics. Knowledge in kinesics will aid in the understanding of the way body movements are made during communication among people from different cultures. A radiotherapist can develop a repertoire of communicating in a culturally competent manner, such that they encourage patients to present their perspectives and inputs while they engage in active listening (Li, et al., 2017).

In certain hospital environments, radiotherapists are burdened with loads of work. The intense work schedules limit the time they can spend with individual patients, and concurrently the ability to establish meaningful relationships. What adds to the frustrations of radiotherapists is the need to remain up to date with advanced expertise and research in multiple facets of their work. When helping an LEP, the medical profession also needs time to seek the right interpreter and this time constraint leads to avoiding the use of interpreters. Additional responsibilities pose as communication barriers as it engages radiotherapists with more responsibilities in limited allotted periods (Brandenburg, 2017).

To minimize this communication barrier, medical institutions should increase the number of radiotherapy professionals so that eliminate time constraints due to being burdened with loads of work. This will guarantee each patient acquires enough time with the radiotherapist and eventually, their relationship can improve resulting in quality treatment (Norouzinia, et al., 2016).

Effective communication is central to better patient health and satisfaction. It leads to the achievement of the essential goals of a clinical encounter. One of these goals is patient safety. The following is a discussion of how communication ensures that the safety of staff, patients together with other service users is not compromised. The discussion consists of four areas including general safety, infection control, radiation safety, and data protection.

In medical practice, particularly oncology, it is recognized that human errors are likely to occur. These errors originate from miscommunication between doctors, patients, and every other service user. Miscommunication, in turn, hampers the care process by causing severe and fatal events. Effective communication is key to avoiding all these errors and enhance safety for everyone. Through effective communication, the concerns and needs of everyone can be understood very well using a bio-psychosocial formula. Comprehensive treatment plans can be agreed upon mutually between patients and medical professionals.

In order to optimize general safety among patients, a patient-centered approach to communication is required among radiotherapists. This will ensure that, apart from health and satisfaction, patients can greatly adhere to treatments and acquire better treatment outcomes. Incidences of panicking and accidents will be reduced through effective communication as there will be fewer claims of physician malpractice, reduced anxiety among patients and increased understanding between radiotherapists and patients.

Effective communication is crucial in ensuring better adherence to precautions of infection control. Infection control precautions are commonly observed during inpatient transfers between radiology and wards. Some of the communication interventions which can be implemented for this purpose include the use of a pre-transfer checklist and a coloured cue. A pre-transfer checklist is prepared by the radiology porters as a way of confirming the infectious status of a patient and the coloured cue highlights the information of the infectious status on the transfer form (Ong, et al., 2013).

Another way of controlling the spread of infection is through effective communication between a radiologist and their patient. Radiologists can provide patients with vital information concerning their infectious status before they are taken through radiology procedures. Vital information entails making the patient understand how serious their infections are, the rate at which the infection can spread and how it can be reduced as well as preventing its further spread. This way, the patient can take part in campaigns creating awareness about a virus infection (Mohammed, 2018).

The use of nuclear medicine as a way of treating oncology-related infections involves patient and staff exposure to radiation. Therefore, it is important to communicate radiation safety to both patients and other service users in the departments of nuclear medicine. Effective communication from medical imaging providers will allow workers to have knowledge about radiation exposure and understand the potential risks they pose to their health. This knowledge and understanding of potential health risks from radiation will help workers decided whether or not they should accept radiation exposure as a condition of their employment. Effective communication to workers can be done to radiation safety training which helps hospital workers acquire knowledge regarding radiation technology (Johnson, 1999).

Patients too are at risk of radiation exposures. Therefore, effective communication between a radiologist and a patient will equip a patient with knowledge about the effective radiation dose from the nuclear medicine processes. The effective radiation dose is a concept that can be easily understood between medical professionals and patients may find it difficult to comprehend. Effective communication simplifies this concept to the patients by letting them know some of the detrimental effects that are associated with different dose rates (Zeng, 2001).

The interaction between a radiologist and a patient results in critical personal information of the patient being shared. Effective communication within the nuclear medicine department is necessary to ensure the safety of data collected from patients. The data includes details which are not limited to medical diagnosis, health insurance data, genetic information, prescriptions, records about clinical research and mental health, and treatment plans (Hicks, 2018). The patients have a right to decide when, where, and to whom their private health information will be disclosed. As medical experts entrusted with this information, it is vital to ensure that data protection measures are established in communication networks within a hospital to avoid concerns about discrimination, public humiliation, and personal embarrassment (Hicks, 2018).

Failure to ensure data protection results in the violation of patient privacy policies and this is avoided through effective communication among every stakeholder, ranging from the patient, radiologist, non-clinicians, medical transport services and other service users (NSQHS Standards, 2017). Effective communication can be practiced in every staff meeting where the concern of avoiding disclosure of patient information in routine conversations is made a priority. In addition, staff members should be reminded never to discuss vital patient information in hallways, waiting rooms, and adopting proper measures of disposing of patient health information (Hicks, 2018).

The first pathway of the patient communication scenario involves radiotherapy professional communicating with paediatric patients. Upon being diagnosed with cancer, a radiologist’s first action is to concentrate on prognosis. Providing prognosis information is important for the parents of a child and adolescents to make more informed decisions for treatment. In some cases, the parents for young children having cancer tend to be very pessimistic or optimistic about the treatment outcome. A radiologist ought to understand parents often develop misconceptions about whether or not their children will be cured of cancer as a result of misunderstanding the information given to them by radiotherapy professional and mixing it up with the biased information they acquired from other sources, like the internet (Damm, et al., 2015).

This scenario necessitates a family-centered approach, the kind of intervention which is a process of medical professionals that encompasses their involvement, partnership and participation in providing support to a child and their family. The family-centered approach is underpinned by negotiation and empowerment. Adolescents and children with cancer who are hospitalized are faced with loneliness on account of losing out on the fun aspects of life and their concern for the family. The family-centered approach will take into consideration that children of all ages are likely to express the lack of communication during practices of communication. Research shows that age should not be used as a guide to determine how children prefer information. Similar to adults, some children do not look forward to knowing everything. To some, the information could be so overwhelming, and others prefer content delivered to them directly communicating with their parents because they worry about hearing things which are unpleasant (Leech & Coffey, 2012).

Studies show that children below age 10 make very limited interactions when consulted. Another study reveals that 35% of the children did not say anything at all. The participation of children in a communication process is highly reliant on their ability to make articulations of their want to take part in the process of communication, the hospital environment, and the attitudes of health professionals while communicating to them. The idea of engaging another party (a family member) in the communication process yields a favourable result. A radiotherapy team needs to communicate with parents and their children about how they will go about the treatment and preparation procedures. This will involve the use of props which are focused on age like picture books and videos. A soft toy belonging to younger children can be allowed and used in a treatment room as a model for the procedure of treatment. This may involve putting marked stickers on the modelling soft toy, increasing the height of their treatment couch and making lights dimmer in the treatment room, followed by turning on a system of aligning lasers to help a child understand the process. As a bonus, siblings can be included in aiding a family explaining the process of radiotherapy to the rest of the family (Damm, et al., 2015).

When faced with a course involving radiotherapy, children often fall into distress. They get the feeling that they are all alone in peculiar surroundings with a dark set up and linear accelerator noise. To a child, this surrounding is horrifying. The surrounding places children in a prone position of treatment where they are highly likely to fall into distress. For instance, children will be distressed when going through the craniospinal irradiation procedure in medulloblastoma (Leech & Coffey, 2012). Besides, parents also become distressed upon witnessing their children in such surroundings, and this may increase anxiety in children. In order to minimize trauma, effective communication is relevant in this scenario.

Giving a child the opportunity to play their favourite music in treatment rooms and the facilitation of communication between a child and their parents via the intercom system in the treatment process is an effective technique of minimizing fear in the otherwise noisy treatment rooms (Leech & Coffey, 2012). Children being treated in a supine position can be distracted by having them look at images projected onto the ceiling. A reward system used in the family-centered approach is effective in radiotherapy treatment for children as they are given a chance to place stickers in a book after every fraction of treatment. Play therapists can be used in radiotherapy departments who specialize in helping the radiotherapy team in preparing for treatment. Play therapists are very useful in the case where children have to be constructed for an immobilizing device. Daily interactions between a radiotherapist and a child with cancer together with her parents grow their relationship as parents begin to trust the radiotherapist with their child (Leech & Coffey, 2012). For such a bond to grow, it is imperative that the same radiation therapy team is used in treating a child. Also, having the same radiation therapy team will increase effective communication between the family and the team.

Having built trust between a radiation team and the family, it becomes easier to disclose any kind of prognostic information (whether good or bad) to the family. Clear prognostic communication will be key in doing away with any form of anxiety and fear of what they do not know. Families can be empowered to take part in the medical treatment and optimization of the quality of life of their children by being given accurate information. Hope is essential to the journey of treatment among cancer patients, and it can also be grown through effective communication. Results from a particular study show that effective communication of prognostic information increased higher hope-related communication among parents and children with cancer (Blazin, et al., 2008).

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To conclude, in this communication scenario which involves a paediatric patient, the decision for effective communication is by using a family-centered approach. This approach puts into consideration the understanding that children hardly participate in communication processes. Therefore, by engaging the family, and other materials subject to emotional attachment, like toys and music, the treatment process will be made easier. Effective communication will allow parents to receive fully detailed prognostic information which potentially increases hope and optimism about the course of treatment being given to a child.


  • Blazin, L. et al., 2008. Communicating Effectively in Pediatric Cancer Care: Translating Evidence into Practice. 5(40).
  • Brandenburg, S. J., 2017. Nurse Perceived Barriers to Effective Nurse-Client Communication. Honors in the Major Theses, p. 228.
  • Damm, L., Leiss, U., Habeler, U. & Ehrich, J., 2015. Improving Care through Better Communication:Continuing the Debate. The Journal of Pediatrics, pp. 1327-1328.
  • Hicks, J., 2018. Protecting the Patient's Right to Privacy. [Online]
  • Johnson, R. H., 1999. Effective presentation of radiation safety training--risk communication: an important function of radiation safety training.. Health Physics.
  • Leech, M. & Coffey, M., 2012. Information and Support for Patients Throughout the Radiation Therapy Treatment Pathway. In: Modern Practices in Radiation Therapy.:InTech Europe, pp. 340-350.
  • Li, C., Abdulkerim, N., Jordan, C. & Ga Eun Son, C., 2017. Overcoming Communication Barriers to Healthcare for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Patients. North American Journal of Medicine and Science, 10(3), pp. 103-109.
  • Mohammed, H., 2018. The efficiency of good and clear communication between the radiology technologist and patient with infectious disease prior the radiology procedure in improving the infectious disease diagnostic and infection control. Journal of Infectious Diseases and Therapy, Volume 6, pp. 94-100.
  • Norouzinia, R. et al., 2016. Communication Barriers Perceived by Nurses and Patients. Global Journal of Health Science, 8(6), pp. 65-74.
  • NSQHS Standards, 2017. Organisational processes to support effective communication. [Online] Available at:
  • Ong, al., 2013. Communication interventions to improve adherence to infection control precautions: a randomised crossover trial. BMC Infectious Diseases, 13(72).
  • Zeng, W., 2001. Communicating Radiation Exposure: A Simple Approach. Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology, 29(3), pp. 156-158.

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