Hablamos Juntos (Together We Speak)

Interpreters, Provider Communication, and Satisfaction with Care

When interpreters were present in ambulatory settings, Latinos with limited English proficiency were more satisfied with the care they received.

Research has shown that Latinos with limited English receive less than high quality health care. Previous research suggested that Spanish interpreters hindered communication. Contrary to those findings, the authors of this study hypothesized that an interpreter would lead Latino patients to report improved communication with their provider.

Hablamos Juntos was a national demonstration project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; for this article, the authors examined data from 2003 to 2006. Hablamos Juntos occurred in eight states, in regions where the Latino population had recently soared. As part of the project, patients rated four areas of communication with their doctors. This article reports patient satisfaction with care received, communication and staff helpfulness.

Key Findings:

  • When aided by an interpreter, patients communicated better with doctors and staff.
  • Patients believed their care was lower quality when they did not receive an interpreter.

Communication between patient and provider is critical to high-quality health care. Latinos often receive inferior care because they have limited English. In this study, the presence of an interpreter increased patient satisfaction in several areas.

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