Teaching health professionals about language barriers

Lisa C. Diamond, Elizabeth Jacobs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Language barriers are increasingly present in health care in the US. Having limited English proficiency (LEP) is a risk factor for health disparities - it is associated with poorer health care processes and outcomes -but this risk can be reduced and/or eliminated when clinicians use professional interpreters or communicate proficiently with patients in their preferred language. In order to reduce the risk of health disparities that LEP patients face, it is essential that clinicians be educated as to how language barriers contribute to disparities and how to best overcome those barriers. We first present evidence for teaching about language barriers in health care. Courses focused on teaching clinicians about language barriers in health care, and how and when to use an interpreter have been shown to be beneficial. Some examples of curricula described in the recent literature are discussed in detail. Next, we present recommendations for curricula. Because education intended to reduce language barriers can also potentially contribute to disparities among LEP patients, institutions and/or individuals who develop and teach these courses need to take care so to avoid contributing to the problem they are intending to address. This can be done by making sure that teaching interventions are of high quality and that their impact on use of interpreters and on physician's own limited non-English language skills be monitored. This section will cover specific recommendations for curricula on language barriers based on evidence based literature and an example of one such successful curriculum. Finally, we discuss teaching non-English language skills to healthcare providers. The intention of these types of interventions is noble---to enhance communication with LEP patients-but it can also have the unintended effect of impairing communication and potentially contributing to health disparities among LEP patients. In addition, the impact of this teaching on appropriate use of interpreters and inappropriate use of limited non-English language skills must be carefully tracked and evaluated to make sure they are not having the unintended effect of impeding appropriate linguistic access services. This section will highlight published examples of successful and unsuccessful efforts to teach non-English skills to clinicians. Teaching clinicians and trainees about how to avoid contributing to healthcare disparities in the context of language barriers should be an essential component of clinical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLanguage Teaching
Subtitle of host publicationTechniques, Developments and Effectiveness
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Pages27-50
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781616688349
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

Fingerprint

language barrier
health professionals
interpreter
Teaching
health care
curriculum
language
health
communication
Health Professionals
Language
trainee
evidence
education
Healthcare
physician
linguistics
Clinicians
English Proficiency
present

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this

Diamond, L. C., & Jacobs, E. (2011). Teaching health professionals about language barriers. In Language Teaching: Techniques, Developments and Effectiveness (pp. 27-50). Nova Science Publishers, Inc..

Teaching health professionals about language barriers. / Diamond, Lisa C.; Jacobs, Elizabeth.

Language Teaching: Techniques, Developments and Effectiveness. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2011. p. 27-50.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Diamond, LC & Jacobs, E 2011, Teaching health professionals about language barriers. in Language Teaching: Techniques, Developments and Effectiveness. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., pp. 27-50.
Diamond LC, Jacobs E. Teaching health professionals about language barriers. In Language Teaching: Techniques, Developments and Effectiveness. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 2011. p. 27-50
Diamond, Lisa C. ; Jacobs, Elizabeth. / Teaching health professionals about language barriers. Language Teaching: Techniques, Developments and Effectiveness. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2011. pp. 27-50
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