Communication between Spanish-speaking patients and their doctors in medical encounters
- Cite this article as:
- Erzinger, S. Cult Med Psych (1991) 15: 91. doi:10.1007/BF00050829
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Little research in patient-doctor communication addresses the profound difficulties that emerge as Spanish-speaking patients seek medical services in the U.S. This study examines the interaction of language and culture in medical encounters between Spanish-speaking Latino patients and their doctors who have a range of Spanish language ability and a variety of cultural backgrounds. Initial ethnographic fieldwork investigated Spanish-speaking patients' perceptions of doctors' Spanish language skill as it relates to their medical service. To elaborate on these fieldwork findings, medical encounters were audiotaped for detailed conversational analysis. Data from the two methods illustrate how language and culture interact in accomplishing communicative tasks as doctors attend Spanish-speaking patients.