The influence of English proficiency on access to care

Leiyu Shi, Lydie A. Lebrun, Jenna Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective. The number of individuals with limited English proficiency in the USA is large and rapidly growing. Consequently, addressing language barriers in access to medical care is becoming increasingly important. Previous studies have reported that individuals with limited English proficiency have more difficulty gaining access to care, compared to English-proficient individuals. We assessed the impact of English language proficiency on access to medical care, accounting for health and socioeconomic status, using nationally representative data. Design. Cross-sectional data from the 2006 National Health Interview Survey (n=29,868). The main outcome measures of interest were self-reported delayed medical care, forgone needed care, and visits to a health care professional. Results. In unadjusted analyses, individuals with limited English proficiency were more likely to forgo needed medical care and less likely to have a health care visit, compared to individuals who were proficient in English. There was no significant association between language proficiency and reports of delayed care. After accounting for individuals' health and socioeconomic status, only the relationship between limited English proficiency and health care visits remained statistically significant. Most associations between language proficiency and access to care did not differ across various racial/ethnic groups. Conclusion. Results indicate that the choice of access measure may influence conclusions about language barriers in health care. Given the growing proportion of US residents with limited English proficiency, health care settings need to better address potential language barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-642
Number of pages18
JournalEthnicity and Health
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Fingerprint

Communication Barriers
Delivery of Health Care
language barrier
medical care
health care
Language
Social Class
Health Status
health status
social status
Health Surveys
Ethnic Groups
language
English language
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
English Proficiency
Healthcare
Interviews
ethnic group
Medical Care

Keywords

  • Access to care
  • Disparities
  • Language
  • National surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Cultural Studies

Cite this

The influence of English proficiency on access to care. / Shi, Leiyu; Lebrun, Lydie A.; Tsai, Jenna.

In: Ethnicity and Health, Vol. 14, No. 6, 12.2009, p. 625-642.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Shi, Leiyu ; Lebrun, Lydie A. ; Tsai, Jenna. / The influence of English proficiency on access to care. In: Ethnicity and Health. 2009 ; Vol. 14, No. 6. pp. 625-642.
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