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J Prim Health Care. 2011 Jun 1;3(2):102-6.

Language barriers in the community pharmacy: a survey of northern and western Auckland.

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  • 1Starship Children's Health, Auckland City Hospital, PB 92024, Auckland 1124, New Zealand. echang@adhb.govt.nz



Community pharmacists play an important role in increasing patient understanding of medication use. Lack of resources to facilitate communication with non-English speaking (NES) patients may be a communication barrier.


To identify obstacles and coping strategies of community pharmacists when counselling NES patients in Auckland's North Shore and West Auckland.


A cross-sectional survey of 46 community pharmacies in West Auckland and the northern Auckland region was carried out in February 2009.


Community pharmacists frequently counsel NES patients (65% reported at least once a week). Use of bilingual staff was the most commonly employed strategy (78% of respondents) to communicate with these customers. Pharmacies that reported serving NES clients at least daily all had bilingual staff, compared with 70% of pharmacies with less frequent NES contact (p=0.017). No pharmacists reported using professional interpreting services. In our sample, telephone interpreting was the most preferred (63% of respondents) method of communicating with such patients, assuming that further services were made available.


Community pharmacists frequently serve NES patients, with limited access to interpreting services or translated resources. Although pharmacists have, in some way, adapted to the needs of their patients, our survey suggests that accessible professional interpreting services would further improve pharmacist/NES client interaction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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