Language and cultural barriers often prevent immigrants from assimilating successfully in their new home. This is especially true of Somali immigrants in terms of their oral health needs. Oral health care is traditionally important to Somalis, yet they report poor oral health now that they are in Minnesota. To date, there has been a lack of effective communication between Somali immigrants and Western oral health practitioners. This paper attempts to show how technical communication strategies can effectively bridge this gap. To highlight the problem, this paper synthesizes published research on immigrant barriers to health care, traditional Somali oral health care beliefs, interviews with Somali immigrants, and interviews with dentists who work with immigrant populations. Also, Western attempts to craft immigrant-appropriate healthcare materials are examined. The author then applies technical communication best practices to offer recommendations on how to improve communications between Western oral health practitioners and their Somali immigrant patients. A communication program for each group is provided, along with avenues for future research.
Oral Health: Bridging Somali Traditions and Western Practice - Recommendations for Technical Communicators.
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