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Keywords

Health care access; Health literacy; Health services accessibility; Language and medicine; Limited English proficiency; Patient-provider communication; Physician and patient

Abstract

Inadequate communication between patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) and providers can be associated with lower access to health care. The purpose of this research was to determine if there is a significant difference among those persons whose primary language is English and those with LEP in ability to access care and preventative screenings and perception of interaction with their physician. Chi square analysis was performed to determine if there was a significant relationship between primary language spoken and access to health care and patient-provider interaction. Data were obtained from the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Study. Results show that there is a significant difference in ability to access health care and screenings for persons with LEP. Those persons with LEP also perceived poorer patient-physician interaction compared to those persons who primarily speak English. Strategies such as interpretative services, translation of health care materials and provider education and training in communication with persons who are LEP and cultural competency should be established to improve access and communication between patient and provider.