The power of talk and power in talk: a systematic review of Indigenous narratives of culturally safe healthcare communication
Australian Journal of Primary Health
The study aimed to explore Indigenous narrative accounts of healthcare access within qualitative research papers, to better understand Indigenous views on culturally safe healthcare and health communication represented in that literature.
A systematic literature review of peer-reviewed academic qualitative studies identified 65 papers containing Indigenous respondents’ views on accessing healthcare.
Analysis included all Indigenous voice (primary quotations) and author findings describing healthcare access across these studies.
Healthcare communication, or ‘talk’, emerged as a key theme. Indigenous clients valued talk within healthcare interactions; it was essential to their experience of care, having the power to foster relationships of trust, strengthen engagement and produce positive outcomes.
By mediating the power differentials between health professionals and Indigenous clients, talk could either reinforce powerlessness, through judgmental down-talk, medical jargon or withholding of talk, or empower patients with good talk, delivered on the client’s level.
Good talk is a critical ingredient to improving Indigenous accessibility and engagement with healthcare services, having the ability to minimise the power differentials between Indigenous clients and the healthcare system.