The Importance of Culturally Relevant Breast Clinic Navigation in Improving Breast Cancer Care in Africa

Eur J Breast Health. 2023 Jan 1;19(1):28-33. doi: 10.4274/ejbh.galenos.2022.2022-7-1. eCollection 2023 Jan.


Objective: Cultural norms, community-specific cultural or religious beliefs, and resultant patient health-belief models are known to pose a significant but imperceptible barrier to breast cancer care. However, there is a paucity of data addressing the need for culturally relevant breast clinic navigation in the context of culturally diverse regions. Thus, this study aimed to assess the benefit of culturally similar breast clinic navigators in facilitating treatment adherence and improving overall care in patients.

Materials and methods: This study was a retrospective qualitative study. It included breast cancer patients who attended our clinic from January, 2017 to December, 2017 and whose management plan included neoadjuvant chemotherapy. These patients were assigned culturally similar breast clinic navigators who counselled them from diagnosis, to treatment, to survivorship. Additionally, navigation concerns were grouped into the following: Navigating the neighbourhood, navigating hostile hospital environments, and navigating medical consultations.

Results: Through counselling sessions and regular telephone follow-up, breast clinic navigators were able to address navigation concerns, provide support for the patient as well as inform the multidisciplinary team (MDT) on the patient's thought process and potential barriers for care. Thus, treatment plans were personalised, resulting in improved, holistic care.

Conclusion: The role of culturally relevant patient navigators within the MDT is not well-described in the current literature. However, this role is useful where a gap exists between medical professionals and patients from varied backgrounds. Thus, navigators from the same/similar backgrounds help improve the healthcare worker's understanding of the patient's thought process, ensuring good quality and holistic breast cancer care.

Keywords: Africa; Breast cancer; navigation; patient care.