MONDAY, July 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — It’s hard enough to understand all of your doctor’s technical talk — now imagine speaking a whole other language on top of that.
Hospital patients who don’t speak the same language as their doctor receive poorer care and are more likely to die, according to a new Canadian study.
Research in Ontario – a linguistically diverse part of Canada – showed that French-speaking people who were treated by a doctor who also spoke French were 24% less likely to die in hospital.
The results were even more striking for English speakers, who had a 54% lower risk of death when treated by someone who spoke their language.
“These are staggering results that make the case for providing care in the same language to linguistic minorities in hospitals,” said co-author Dr. Peter Tanuseputro, physician-scientist at The Ottawa Hospital.
Unfortunately, only about 44% of French speakers in the study received care in their own language, the researchers found.
The study — published July 11 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal — involved nearly 190,000 adult home care recipients who were admitted to a hospital in the province of Ontario between April 2010 and March 2018.
Almost 3 in 5 doctors (58%) who treated patients spoke only English, while the rest were multilingual.
“We need to do more to make sure patients are heard and understood, whether by referring them to doctors who speak the same language or using the services of an interpreter,” said lead author Emily Seale, medical student at the University of Ottawa. “It’s not just good patient-centered care, but our research shows there are serious health consequences when it doesn’t happen.”
The new research echoes the findings of other recent studies.
AARP has more on how to talk to your doctor.
THE SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journalpress release, July 7, 2022