[Conditions for foreign doctors' clinical work assessed by Danish health care personnel, patients and foreign doctors]

Anja U Mitchell, Fatemeh Hani Tabaei, Doris Ƙstergaard, Morten Freil
Ugeskrift for Laeger 2008 May 19, 170 (21): 1833-8

INTRODUCTION: Many foreign doctors work in Danish hospitals. This study concerns the opportunities available to and difficulties encountered by these doctors.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A questionnaire concerning guidance available to foreign doctors, their linguistic and professional competence and their cultural backgrounds was sent to foreign doctors, to Danish doctors, to Danish nurses, and to patients in Greater Copenhagen. A total of 1539 questionnaires were sent.

RESULTS: 49-57% in each group replied. The majority of both foreign doctors and Danish doctors found that introductory guidance was adequate, but nurses thought otherwise. A large majority of Danish personnel (78-89%) had experienced that they themselves or patients could not understand a foreign doctor. A lesser number of foreign doctors (27-33%) had the same experience with Danish personnel or patients. Foreign doctors' language difficulties gave rise to feelings of insecurity and doubts about professional competence in both Danish personnel and patients (53-69%). Danish personnel estimate that European Union (EU) doctors' professional competence is equal to Danish doctors' professional competence, while non-EU foreign doctors are not so highly esteemed. 90% of patients are of the opinion that foreign doctors are professionally competent. Cultural background can influence clinical practice in the opinion of 50% of Danish personnel and 42% of foreign doctors.

CONCLUSION: Insufficient communication is the biggest challenge for foreign doctors, and can influence the evaluation of their professional competence. Cultural differences may influence foreign doctors' cooperation with Danish personnel. Patients are satisfied with treatment given by foreign doctors.

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