BACKGROUND: In increasingly multi-ethnic societies fostering cultural awareness and integration of immigrants is not only a political duty but also an obligation for social and healthcare systems. Importantly, cultural beliefs and needs strongly impact on the quality of life of cancer patients and may become even more crucial at the end of life. However, to date, ethnic and cultural aspects of palliative care are insufficiently researched.
METHODS: This qualitative study at the Medical University of Vienna included 21 staff members from different disciplines in oncology and palliative care working with patients with various cultural backgrounds at the end of life. Semi-structured interviews were performed to gain insights into specific aspects of palliative care that are important in the clinical encounter with terminally ill cancer patients with migrant backgrounds and their relatives.
RESULTS: Interviews revealed specific aspects of palliative care, which fell into four fundamental categories and were all perceived as beneficial in the clinical encounter with migrant clients: (A) structural and (B) personal conditions of the palliative care setting, (C) specific care and treatment intentions and (D) personnel requirements and attitudes.
CONCLUSION: This study revealed first insights into possibilities and prospects of transcultural palliative care for migrants and their relatives. The results might have important implications for the end of life care in this growing population.