Patient-Physician Language Concordance and Lifestyle Counseling Among Spanish-Speaking Patients

  • Pracha P. EamranondEmail author
  • Roger B. Davis
  • Russell S. Phillips
  • Christina C. Wee
Original Paper


Objective Patient-physician language discordance is associated with worse quality of healthcare for patients with limited English proficiency. Patients with language-discordant physicians have more problems understanding medical situations. The impact of patient-physician language concordance on lifestyle counseling among Spanish-speaking patients is not known. Methods We performed a retrospective medical record review and identified 306 Spanish-speaking patients who used interpreter services between June 2001 and June 2006 in two Boston-based primary care practices. Our primary outcome was counseling on exercise, diet, and smoking. Our main predictor of interest was patient-physician language concordance. Results Patients with language-concordant physicians were more likely to be counseled on diet and physical activity compared to patients with language-discordant physicians. After adjustment for age, sex, insurance status, number of primary care visits, and comorbidity score, these differences in counseling persisted for diet [odds ratio (OR) = 2.2, CI 1.3–3.7] and physical activity (OR = 2.3, CI 1.4–3.8). There was no significant difference with regard to discussion of smoking (OR = 1.3, CI 0.8–2.1). Conclusions Spanish-speaking patients are more likely to discuss diet and exercise modification if they have a Spanish-speaking physician compared to those having a non-Spanish-speaking physician. Further research is needed to explore whether matching Spanish-speaking patients with Spanish-speaking providers may improve lifestyle counseling.


Diet Exercise Counseling Hispanic Language concordance 



This research was supported by an individual and institutional Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (5 T32 HP11001-18) from the Health Resources and Services Administration. There are no conflicts of interest to report for the authors of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pracha P. Eamranond
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roger B. Davis
    • 1
  • Russell S. Phillips
    • 1
  • Christina C. Wee
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of General Medicine and Primary CareBeth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterBrookline, BostonUSA

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