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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Linguistic and Cultural Barriers to Health Care for Spanish-Speaking Patients in Anchorage

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 09/01/2004
End Date 06/30/2005
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grants
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 07/05/2008 01:25AM
Keywords Health Care


  Francisco Miranda

Student Researchers
  Cassie Iutzi-Mitchell


Anchorage, Alaska is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse cities of its size in the United States with over 13.6% of the population speaking a language other than English at home. Almost 4% of the Anchorage population speaks Spanish at home, making it second only to English. There are numerous factors that can impede access to health care, two of the largest being language and culture. Language barriers are addressed at all of the major hospitals in Anchorage; all offer full interpretive services. The cultural expectations that change when a different language is used are often forgotten because they are more difficult to study as well as to learn to handle proficiently. This project examines the mismatches in cultural and linguistic expectations of Spanish-speaking patients and their health care providers. Twenty Spanish-speakers and twenty health care providers who work with Spanish-speaking patients will be interviewed. All participants will be asked questions concerning how often interpretive services are used, expectations of the provider's role and the patient's role before entering a medical setting, what they felt were the roles during the interaction, whether they felt appropriate words and mannerisms leading into a question were utilized, and their overall feeling of comfort and respect. They will be asked if the patient-provider relationship changes when interpretive services are utilized. By identifying recurring themes in the interviews, I will be able to do qualitative analysis to elucidate linguistic and cultural barriers to health care for Spanish-speaking patients. I will look for patterns in words and phrases, as well as stories that reiterate similar themes. It is hypothesized that patients and providers have different expectations for the roles of the other party and that both patients and providers believe that this negatively affects their ability to fully communicate and receive/give adequate health care.

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