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OBJECTIVE: Despite calls to increase the 'cultural competence' of health care providers, racially minoritised people continue to experience a range of problems when it comes to health care, including discrimination. While relevant qualitative meta-syntheses have suggested better ways forward for health care for racialised minorities, many have lacked conceptual depth, and none have specifically investigated the relational dimensions involved in care. We set out to investigate the social and cultural influences on health care interventions, focusing on psychological approaches and/or cancer care to inform the trial of a new psychological therapy for those living with or beyond cancer. METHOD: A meta-ethnography approach was used to examine the relevant qualitative studies, following Noblit and Hare, and guided by patient involvement throughout. Papers were analysed between September 2018 and February 2023, with some interruptions caused by the Covid pandemic. The following databases were searched: Ovid MEDLINE, EBSCO CINAHL, Ovid Embase, EBSCO PsycINFO, Proquest Sociology Collection (including Applied Social Sciences Index & Abstracts (ASSIA), Sociological Abstracts and Sociology Database), EBSCO SocINDEX, Ovid AMED, and Web of Science. The systematic review protocol was registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) (ID: CRD42018107695), and reporting follows the eMERGe Reporting Guidance for meta-ethnographies (France et al. 2019). RESULTS: Twenty-nine journal papers were included in the final review. Themes (third-order constructs) developed in the paper include the centrality of the patient-practitioner relationship; how participants give meaning to their illness in connection to others; how families (rather than individuals) may make health decisions; how links with a higher power and spiritual/religious others can play a role in coping; and the ways in which a hierarchy of help-seeking develops, frequently with the first port of call being the resources of oneself. Participants in studies had a need to avoid being 'othered' in their care, valuing practitioners that connected with them, and who were able to recognise them as whole and complex (sometimes described in relational languages like 'love'). Complex family-based health decision-making and/or the importance of relations with non-human interactants (e.g. God, spiritual beings) were frequently uncovered, not to mention the profoundly emergent nature of stigma, whereby families could be relatively safe havens for containing and dealing with health challenges. A conceptual framework of 'animated via (frequently hidden) affective relationality' emerged in the final synthesis, bringing all themes together, and drawing attention to the emergent nature of the salient issues facing minoritised patients in health care interactions. CONCLUSION: Our analysis is important because it sheds light on the hitherto buried relational forces animating and producing the specific issues facing racially minoritised patients, which study participants thought were largely overlooked, but to which professionals can readily relate (given the universal nature of human relations). Thus, training around the affective relationality of consultations could be a fruitful avenue to explore to improve care of diverse patients.

Original publication




Journal article


PloS one

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