Introduction: Culture shock or cultural adaptation is a significant issue confronting non-Indigenous health professionals working in remote Indigenous communities in Australia. This article is presented in two parts. The first part provides a thorough background in the theory of culture shock and cultural adaptation, and a comprehensive analysis of the consequences, causes, and current issues around the phenomenon in the remote Australian healthcare context. Second, the article presents the results of a comprehensive literature review undertaken to determine if existing studies provide tools which may measure the cultural adaptation of remote health professionals.
Methods: A comprehensive literature review was conducted utilising the meta-databases CINAHL and Ovid Medline.
Results: While there is a plethora of descriptive literature about culture shock and cultural adaptation, empirical evidence is lacking. In particular, no empirical evidence was found relating to the cultural adaptation of non-Indigenous health professionals working in Indigenous communities in Australia. In all, 15 international articles were found that provided empirical evidence to support the concept of culture shock. Of these, only 2 articles contained tools that met the pre-determined selection criteria to measure the stages of culture shock. The 2 instruments identified were the Culture Shock Profile (CSP) by Zapf and the Culture Shock Adaptation Inventory (CSAI) by Juffer.
Conclusions: There is sufficient evidence to determine that culture shock is a significant issue for non-Indigenous health professionals working in Indigenous communities in Australia. However, further research in this area is needed. The available empirical evidence indicates that a measurement tool is possible but needs further development to be suitable for use in remote Indigenous communities in Australia.