Health professionals are being offered new training to develop the skills they need to communicate and deliver care more effectively with ethnic minority groups.

The training – called PROCEED* – was developed in response to growing concern about inequalities in health care experienced by patients with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

The resource aims to help those training many different types of health professionals, including those working in primary or secondary care, medical students, and pre-registration nurses. It consists of a resource book and DVD and offers background, learning materials and tips. The DVD also contains simulated clinical scenarios to help prompt discussion amongst trainees.

Funded by Cancer Research UK, a research team led by Professor Joe Kai from the University of Nottingham designed the programme in recognition of the UK’s growing diversity.

Previous research highlights that ethnic minority groups tend to use health services such as screening less frequently than the general population. They also tend to access services at a later stage in their illness than others in the general population.

In developing PROCEED, researchers held eighteen focus groups with health professionals from a broad range of fields, from occupational therapists to clinical nurse specialists and doctors. These sessions allowed the participants to share their experiences and concerns of providing healthcare to ethnic minority groups.

Uncertainty and anxiety about how to respond to cultural diversity, about how to use interpreters, or not wanting to cause offence were commonplace.

The new training is designed to promote confidence and the development of generic skills that can be used with anyone, whatever their ethnicity or cultural background. In addition, the insights and skills developed using the resource can be applied in a wide range of health care situations beyond cancer care.

Professor John Toy, medical director at Cancer Research UK, said: “We live in an increasingly diverse society. It is essential for health professionals to feel confident that they can respond appropriately and effectively to patients, regardless of cultural or ethnic background. The new PROCEED training aims to help develop generic skills that can be used not just for cancer care, but a wide range of health care areas.”

The research led to practical training examples such as a Bengali family struggling to look after an elderly relative with lung cancer. The family is divided about what is best for him. Another example features a South Asian Muslim woman attending her GP surgery to have her contraceptive coil checked. The practice nurse would like to perform a cervical smear at the same time but is challenged to discuss this with the woman. Examples are also used from contemporary dramas such as Humara Safar, involving a South Asian family.

Professor Joe Kai, from the University of Nottingham, said: “PROCEED can help health professionals ensure that patients and their relatives across diverse groups understand their individual health care needs. PROCEED uses a number of different learning styles and incorporates DVD scenarios based on real life situations. It is easy to use and provides help and guidance for trainers.

“We hope that PROCEED will contribute to reducing current inequalities in access to cancer care and other health care for people from ethnic minority groups. We have worked closely with practitioners and educators from a wide range of health professions to ensure that the resource is truly responsive and appropriate to individual needs.”

Visit the PROCEED website for more information and details of how to order the training resource.

ENDS For media enquiries please contact Paul Thorne in the Press Office on 020 7061 8352 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.


*Professionals RespOnding to CancEr and Ethnic Diversity.

Images are available of the training manual.

PROCEED is designed for training health professionals in how to respond to patient diversity, using cancer care as an example.

Original research helped form 29 training exercises, broken up over six sections; Ethnic Diversity and Cancer, Language and Communication, Culture and Cancer, Working with Families, Working with Uncertainty, and Learning Organisations. The researchers believe that participation in this training will help health professionals develop greater confidence, knowledge and skills relevant to ethnically diverse groups.

Further scenarios in the resource include a Nigerian businessman being diagnosed with cancer. The patient speaks Ibo, an African language but not English. The medical team need to ensure the patient and the whole family are fully aware of his condition and the implications of chemotherapy but his family wishes to make decisions on his behalf

Another example shows a general practice in a Yemeni neighbourhood that has a new mothers’ clinic one morning each fortnight. Few Yemeni women come for cervical smears and the GPs look at ways to increase the uptake for the test.

Other scenarios include a patient who is a Seventh Day Adventist and another patient who is originally from Somalia.

A cervical smear is a screening test to detect cancer of the cervix. A scraping of cells is taken from the surface of the cervix and examined under the microscope to see if any of them are showing signs of becoming cancerous. This is a test for pre-cancer. A positive smear does not mean you have cancer. It means you have cells that, if not treated, might go on to develop into cancer.

Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK’s vision is to conquer cancer through world-class research.
  • The charity works alone and in partnership with others to carry out research into the biology and causes of cancer, to develop effective treatments, improve the quality of life for cancer patients, reduce the number of people getting cancer and to provide authoritative information on cancer. Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading independent charity dedicated to research on the causes, treatment and prevention of cancer.
  • For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820.
  • For further information about Reduce the Risk please visit the website.

For more information about different types of cancer, diagnosis and treatment for patients and their families, visit the Cancer Research UK’s patient information website.

Half of all cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle. Cancer Research UK’s Reduce the Risk campaign website highlights important ways you can lower your cancer risk.


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