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Language and Literacy

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Abstract

Barriers in communication between doctors and patients arise from differences in language, culture, and health literacy. Communication barriers contribute to poor quality of care for patients with limited English proficiency, which can be mitigated with appropriate language assistance. Low health literacy is widespread and associated with difficulty taking medications and with mortality risk. Sociocultural differences between patient and provider can be exacerbated by language discordance or assumptions regarding health literacy, and can create misunderstanding and distrust. Exploring such differences with humility can promote a therapeutic patient–provider relationship. This chapter provides emergency providers with strategies to simplify and clarify medical communication to benefit patients regardless of their primary language, cultural background, or literacy level.

Keywords

  • Language barriers
  • Interpreters
  • Health literacy
  • Cultural humility
  • Limited English proficiency

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Preston-Suni, K., Taira, B.R. (2021). Language and Literacy. In: Alter, H.J., Dalawari, P., Doran, K.M., Raven, M.C. (eds) Social Emergency Medicine. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-65672-0_4

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