The current investigation focused on individuals seeking health care who had limited English proficiency (LEP). The study sample of 26,671 respondents was taken from the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Survey (CAHPS). Surveys were completed via mail or telephone. Investigators examined whether LEP patients had access to interpreters, what role access to interpreters played in patients' reports of care and if racial and ethnic disparities in health care were reduced with access to interpreters.
- Fifteen percent of respondents needed an interpreter in the six months prior to survey completion.
- Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander health plan members who needed an interpreter but never or sometimes had one, had the lowest mean scores in communication with their provider and office staff, access to care and health plan customer service.
- Provision of interpreters to Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders who needed them reduced disparities, as compared to whites, in reported patient care up to 28 percent and 21 percent, respectively.