When language is a barrier in the doctor-patient relationship

Frank
June 30, 2018
106 Views

A language gap can present a problem — particularly when it prevents a physician and patient from communicating.

A new study from physician social network Doximity took an in-depth look at which languages (aside from English) that physicians speak nationally and in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas.

The report includes information on over 60,000 physicians. Doximity also relied on U.S. Census data to gain insight about the languages spoken by patients.

Among all the physicians who speak a language other than English, the study found 44.7 percent graduated from a medical school outside America.

Additionally, study unearthed the most common languages spoken by multilingual physicians. The top language was Spanish (36.2 percent of doctors), followed by Hindi (13.8 percent of doctors).

The other top languages of physicians include:

Doximity found Spanish is also the most common non-English language spoken by patients.

But other languages spoken by healthcare consumers aren’t as frequently known by physicians. Patients who speak Swahili and Sub-Saharan African will have a greater challenge encountering a doctor who speaks their language.

The other patient languages with the least overlap among doctors include Hamitic and Near East Arabic; Polynesian; Burmese and Southeast Asian; Filipino; Korean; Indonesian; Vietnamese; Thai; and Japanese.

A language barrier clearly exists, and it’s more prevalent in certain areas of the country than in others.

The report found cities such as Washington, D.C. and Louisville, Kentucky have the most significant language gap between patients and providers. Other areas with prominent barriers are Minneapolis; Baltimore; Seattle; Detroit; Boston; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Nashville, Tennessee; and Jacksonville, Florida.

“A growing body of research has shown patients achieve better health outcomes when they can communicate with their caregivers in the same language,” Nate Gross, Doximity cofounder, said in a news release. “Understanding imbalances between languages can help address communication challenges across our healthcare system.”

San Francisco-based Doximity raised $54 million in 2014 and $17 million in 2012.

Photo: RoBeDeRo/Getty Images

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Frank’s source: https://medcitynews.com/2017/10/language-barrier/

 

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