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J Gen Intern Med. 2006 Jul;21(7):683-8.

Effect of awareness of language law on language access in the health care setting.

Author information

1
Division of General Internal Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. vgrubbs@medsfgh.ucsf.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Federal law obligates health care providers receiving federal funding to ensure language access to limited English-proficient (LEP) individuals who cannot communicate with their provider.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether LEP individual awareness of this law improved language access through interpreter utilization.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

In June 2003, a telephone survey of 1,200 Californians was conducted in 11 non-English languages.

MEASUREMENTS:

The survey included items on English proficiency, awareness of language law, health care utilization, and communication methods. Language access was defined as having a provider who speaks the individual's language (language-concordant) or utilizing an interpreter.

RESULTS:

There were 1,000 LEP participants, of whom 371 (37%) were aware of the language law. Four hundred and ninety-one (49%) of LEP participants had a language-concordant provider. Of the remaining 509 LEP participants without a language-concordant provider, 111 (22%) reported interpreter utilization in the health care setting. After controlling for age, gender, education, income, insurance status, years in the United States, health care utilization, and level of English proficiency, awareness of law was not associated with interpreter utilization (odds ratio [OR] 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.38, 1.17; P=.16), but was associated with having a language-concordant provider (OR 1.64; 95% CI 1.19, 2.26; P=.003).

CONCLUSION:

Awareness of language law is not sufficient to resolve language barriers for LEP individuals. Provider and organization level barriers to language access must be addressed.

PMID:
16808766
PMCID:
PMC1924696
DOI:
10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00492.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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