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Study protocol of OncoTolk: an observational study on communication problems in language-mediated consultations with migrant oncology patients in Flanders (Belgium)
  1. Demi Krystallidou1,
  2. Lena Vaes1,2,
  3. Ignaas Devisch2,
  4. Johan Wens3,
  5. Peter Pype2
  1. 1Faculty of Arts, Sint Andries Campus, KU Leuven, Antwerp, Belgium
  2. 2Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  3. 3Department of Primary and Interdisciplinary Care, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Dr. Demi Krystallidou; demi.krystallidou{at}; Dr. Peter Pype; peter.pype{at}


Introduction Effective doctor–patient communication in oncology settings can be challenging due to the complexity of the cancer disease trajectory. The challenges can become greater when doctors and patients do not share a common language and need to rely on language mediators. The aim of this study is to provide evidence-based recommendations for healthcare professionals, patients and language mediators on how to interact with each other during language-mediated consultations in oncology settings.

Methods and analysis A systematic review of the literature on communication problems in monolingual and multilingual oncology settings will be conducted. Thirty language-mediated consultations with Turkish-speaking or Arabic-speaking cancer patients, language mediators and Dutch-speaking oncologists/haematologists will be video-recorded in three urban hospitals in Flanders, Belgium. All participants will be interviewed immediately after the consultation and 2 weeks after it by means of video-stimulated recall. Multimodal interaction analysis will be combined with qualitative content analysis to allow for the identification of communication practices when communication problems occur.

Ethics and dissemination The study has been approved by the following ethics committees: Ghent University Hospital, Antwerp University Hospital, Antwerp Hospitals Network (ZNA). Results will be published via (inter)national peer-reviewed journals and the findings of the study will be communicated using a comprehensive dissemination strategy aimed at healthcare professionals, patients and language mediators.

  • protocols & guidelines
  • oncology
  • qualitative research
  • communication
  • language barriers

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  • Contributors DK and PP conceived of the study. DK wrote three quarters of the study protocol. LV wrote the introduction. JW, ID, PP and LV provided critical feedback during the conception of the study and the writing up of the protocol.

  • Funding This work was supported by Stand Up To Cancer (Kom op Tegen Kanker), grant number KOTK/2018/10839.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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