It's 2011, and there is an increasing awareness that a number of populations are not getting enough services from health systems in the United States, in Canada, and elsewhere. Patients who do not share the host country's culture and official languages are one of these underserved groups.
It was interesting to come across an article that made the point that cultural miscommunication and differences in attitudes about health care interfere with good health care for these patients as much as language barriers.
Cross-cultural Medicine - A decade later [PDF link] makes the point that health care providers need to be bi-cultural, not just bilingual. Examples given include:
Latino women are often reluctant to reveal personal or private problems if their children are used to interpret.And how the notion of "informed consent" may be totally foreign:
Latinos feel they should agree with physicians out of politeness and respect, even when they really disagree or do not understand the issues involved.There are, of course, linguistic challenges that are noted as well:
In most Spanish-speaking countries, canilla means shinbone... except in certain parts of Mexico where the word means wrist."The good news is that these are all great insights. The bad news: The article is based on speeches given in 1991!
It's now 20+ years later, and we are still talking about how translation is a hot topic in healthcare settings and how patients at risk due to lack of translations.
Has anything really changed?
Stay in touch with ForeignExchange on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.