News – Multilingual Healthcare

Professional translation improves healthcare

A paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) today reports on the provision of translation and interpreting in the clinical setting. Its authors argue that language barriers are increasingly important in healthcare, as limited English proficiency is associated with poorer healthcare processes and outcomes. Disparities in care for patients with limited English proficiency persist even when socio-economic and insurance status are considered, and accumulating research shows that having a language-concordant doctor is associated with improved quality and outcomes. Using professional interpreters is found to lead to better care for patients with limited English proficiency, although doctors underuse professional interpreters and frequently substitute their own limited spoken second languages during clinical encounters. It concludes that healthcare demands ‘high-quality, language-concordant communication.’

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