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Review Article

Culture shock and healthcare workers in remote Indigenous communities of Australia: what do we know and how can we measure it?

Submitted: 7 September 2010
Revised: 2 February 2011
Published: 8 April 2011

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Author(s) : Muecke A, Lenthall S, Lindeman M.

Sue LenthallMelissa Lindeman

Citation: Muecke A, Lenthall S, Lindeman M.  Culture shock and healthcare workers in remote Indigenous communities of Australia: what do we know and how can we measure it? Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2011; 11: 1607. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=1607 (Accessed 17 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Introduction:  Culture shock or cultural adaptation is a significant issue confronting non-Indigenous health professionals working in remote Indigenous communities in Australia. This article is presented in two parts. The first part provides a thorough background in the theory of culture shock and cultural adaptation, and a comprehensive analysis of the consequences, causes, and current issues around the phenomenon in the remote Australian healthcare context. Second, the article presents the results of a comprehensive literature review undertaken to determine if existing studies provide tools which may measure the cultural adaptation of remote health professionals.
Methods:  A comprehensive literature review was conducted utilising the meta-databases CINAHL and Ovid Medline.
Results:  While there is a plethora of descriptive literature about culture shock and cultural adaptation, empirical evidence is lacking. In particular, no empirical evidence was found relating to the cultural adaptation of non-Indigenous health professionals working in Indigenous communities in Australia. In all, 15 international articles were found that provided empirical evidence to support the concept of culture shock. Of these, only 2 articles contained tools that met the pre-determined selection criteria to measure the stages of culture shock. The 2 instruments identified were the Culture Shock Profile (CSP) by Zapf and the Culture Shock Adaptation Inventory (CSAI) by Juffer.
Conclusions:  There is sufficient evidence to determine that culture shock is a significant issue for non-Indigenous health professionals working in Indigenous communities in Australia. However, further research in this area is needed. The available empirical evidence indicates that a measurement tool is possible but needs further development to be suitable for use in remote Indigenous communities in Australia.

Key words: Australia, cultural adaptation, culture shock, Indigenous health, remote health, remote health professionals.

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