Health Affairs July 30, 2021
Pilar Ortega, Tiffany M. Shin

Health systems have a lot to gain from clinician education around effective communication with non-English-speaking patients. In 2013, more than 61 million people in the US reported speaking a non-English language at home, of which approximately 4 out of 10 reported limited English proficiency (LEP); that number rose to nearly 66 million in 2019. Despite the linguistic diversity of the US, health professions schools typically only teach clinicians to communicate with patients in English, resulting in significant gaps in providing quality health care to the growing LEP population.

Research has shown that language-discordant encounters—or, in other words, encounters where the patient and clinician do not speak the same language—result in worse health outcomesreduced access to health information, and decreased satisfaction with care. Conversely, language-concordant care improves...

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