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14.08.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 5/2019 Open Access

Supportive Care in Cancer 5/2019

In their own words: patient navigator roles in culturally sensitive cancer care

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 5/2019
Serena Phillips, Aubrey V. K. Villalobos, Graham S. N. Crawbuck, Mandi L. Pratt-Chapman
Wichtige Hinweise
The following manuscript reflects original work and has not been submitted for publication at another journal.



Patient navigation has emerged as a promising strategy in reducing disparities among diverse cancer patients. However, little is known about navigators’ own perspectives on their roles in providing culturally competent care. The purpose of the present study is to describe these self-identified roles.


Data were collected from an online survey with a convenience sample of cancer patient navigators. Using NVivo 10, qualitative content analysis was conducted on free text responses to the question: “In your opinion, what is the role of a patient navigator or nurse navigator in the provision of culturally sensitive care to patients?” Frequencies of each navigator-identified role mentioned were tabulated.


Of 294 respondents, 50.7% (n = 149) provided a response to the question of interest. Respondents described the following 11 interrelated navigator roles in the provision of culturally competent care: (1) assess and understand patient needs, (2) tailor care to patient, (3) build rapport/open communication, (4) facilitate communication between patient and health care team, (5) educate/provide resources to the patient, (6) advocate, (7) self-motivated learning, (8) address barriers to care, (9) involve/meet the needs of family or support people, (10) educate/support health care team, and (11) support patient empowerment in care.


Patient navigators are uniquely well-positioned to improve cultural competence of cancer care given their role as liaison to patients and providers. Cancer care settings should use navigators with direct knowledge of patient culture whenever possible; however, communication and cultural competence training is highly recommended for all navigators given the diversity of patient needs.

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