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Language and Culture: Impact on Healthcare

Piacentini, T., O’Donnell, C., Phipps, A., Jackson, I., & Stack, N. (2019). Moving beyond the ‘language problem’: Understanding the intersections of health, language, and immigration status in interpreter-mediated health encounters. Language and Intercultural Communication, 19(3), 256-271. Web.

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The study by Piacentini et al. (2019) explores how language influences on provision of healthcare to immigrants. The study was conducted in Glasgow, focusing on parties involved in providing healthcare medical practitioners, interpreters, and immigrants. The authors interviewed participants individually and in groups of 19 to collect data. Data gathered from the interviews was coded and classified into themes. Results revealed that language differences and the method of immigration affected how respondents accessed healthcare. Literate migrants such as migrant workers had a better understanding of how the healthcare system works and access quality care. Immigrants less proficient in the formal language had difficulty accessing quality healthcare. The study highlighted discriminatory practices based on ethnicity, language differences, and immigrant status, contributing to lower healthcare quality among immigrants.

The location of interaction between healthcare providers and patients influenced healthcare services. While interaction in the community was advantageous to patients, it presented additional challenges to healthcare providers in language and cultural differences. While the study highlighted how language influences healthcare from the perspectives of the providers and the users, it was limited in scope. The authors recommended similar studies with larger samples size. The study is relevant for the research at hand as it highlights how language differences lead to discrimination in healthcare provision.

Andrulis, D. P., & Brach, C. (2007). Integrating literacy, culture, and language to improve health care quality for diverse populations. American journal of health behavior, 31(1), S122-S133. Web.

This study attempted to investigate how language and culture influence provision and access to healthcare. The authors reviewed published literature about language, culture, and health literacy. The authors found that culture influences how people define illness and health and is the primary factor determining their health-seeking behavior. Language is essential for effective communication to establish a doctor-patient relationship. Communication breakdown impairs the provision of healthcare services; patients have difficulty expressing their illness and understanding health information. The authors recommend improving communication between providers and individuals from minority linguistic groups (Andrulis & Brach 2007). The strategies include identifying patients with language difficulties and tailoring communication approaches to suit their unique needs. The use of audiovisual materials and writing prescriptions in patient-friendly language are additional strategies proposed. Overcoming language differences and improving communication requires multidisciplinary effort from healthcare providers, governmental and nongovernmental healthcare organizations. One of the strengths of this study that makes it relevant is the valuable strategies it proposes to enhance effective communication in healthcare.

Partida, Y. (2012). Language and Health Care. Diabetes Spectrum, 25(1), 19–22. Web.

The study by Partida (2012) elaborates on the history heterogeneity of language in the United States and language affects how immigrants access healthcare. It is a literature review focusing on the history of immigration, language diversity, and integration. Historically, the United States is a nation of immigrants; a wave of immigrants moved to the United States from the late 19th century, and still, immigration continues to date. Proficiency in the English language is the hallmark of integration. Integration and understanding the formal language influences the ease with which immigrants succeed economically, socially, and access to quality healthcare. In the United States, English is the official language; the quality of healthcare an individual receives depends on their proficiency in English.

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Language differences result in communication failure between providers and patients; patients fail to comprehend health information. To improve communication, the author recommends practitioners should deliver the information tactfully by acknowledging patients’ cultures and native languages. The Teach-back technique is recommended as a strategy to avoid miscommunication. The study effectively elaborates on the influence of language and culture in healthcare. It is a relevant source of information for the research topic on the connection between language and healthcare.

References

Andrulis, D. P., & Brach, C. (2007). Integrating literacy, culture, and language to improve health care quality for diverse populations. American journal of health behavior, 31(1), S122-S133. Web.

Partida, Y. (2012). Language and Health Care. Diabetes Spectrum, 25(1), 19–22. Web.

Piacentini, T., O’Donnell, C., Phipps, A., Jackson, I., & Stack, N. (2019). Moving beyond the ‘language problem’: Understanding the intersections of health, language, and immigration status in interpreter-mediated health encounters. Language and Intercultural Communication, 19(3), 256-271. Web.

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