What Did You Say?: The Impact of Language Barriers on Access to Healthcare


Initial research was done on gender and racial bias but my interest began to develop towards the topic of language barriers. As more research was conducted, the following research questions developed more fully: How do language barriers affect a patient’s quality and accessibility to healthcare services? How does this problem not only affect the patient but possibly their family members as well? I had hypothesized that people who spoke a primary language that was not English would be impacted negatively by language barriers and family members who acted as translators would also have negative experiences. A survey was created and distributed, alongside interviews, in order to answer my research questions and prove my hypothesis. I came to the conclusion that language barriers do in fact affect a patient’s healthcare experience negatively, by not being able to speak for themselves and in some cases having harm come to them in the form of confusion of treatment. The family member’s experience can be negative as well if they are unable to reliably interpret medical jargon.



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