Multilingual, Bicultural Challenges: A Slippery Slope Barriers to Care

Multilingual, Bicultural Challenges: A Slippery Slope

The growing migration into the United States carries diversity but brings with it access limitations to necessary healthcare services. The foreign-born population has increased to an excess of sixty million in the United States (Lopez & Radford, 2017). This is a population that speaks a native tongue in their household, with English as a second language, while half are not proficient or cannot speak English according to the United States Census Bureau. To further compound the issue of language as a barrier to healthcare services, less than a third of the hospitals nationwide offer translation services while others offer only inadequate services.

Translation services have proven to be essential in providing quality healthcare. Many healthcare organizations rely on a dangerous proposition of enlisting fellow patents, family members, friends, employees, and other untrained uncertified nonclinical individuals. Reliance on spur-of-the-moment ad hoc solutions presents a jeopardy to the well-being of the patient and the healthcare organization.

The engagement of ad hoc translation or interpretation can introduce uncertainty and risk for the patient and the provider. The ad hoc measure can introduce a difference in dialect and understanding on the basis of cultural or religious beliefs, animosity of ethnic, cultural, religious, or other consternating factors. Safeguards must be considered for both the patient and the provider.

The cost of translation/interpretation services is considerably expensive, but necessary. Reluctance or refusal to provide such services is a shortsighted failing to consider potential negative health outcomes, relinquishing the opportunity to further provider/patient relationships, and the risk of legal repercussions. The most convenient and cost-effective measure might be tele-translation services provided by a certified translator on a twenty-four-hour basis.


Lopez, G., & Radford, J. (2017). Facts on U.S. immigrants, 2015: Statistical portrait of the foreign-born population in the United States. Pew Research Center, Hispanic Trends. Retrieved from…

Pew Research Center. (2015, September 28). Modern immigration wave brings 59 million to U.S., driving population growth and change through 2065. Retrieved from…

Overcoming Language Barriers

Review the tabs to know more about medical interpreters in a healthcare setting.

The importance of professional medical interpreters in a healthcare setting

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The exchange of accurate information between the patient and the provider is a large part of medical care. The collection of accurate and comprehensive patient-specific data remains the basis for proper diagnosis and prognosis. Certified interpreters facilitate communication and help in the prevention of misunderstandings by ensuring that correct information is passed on.

The role of a medical interpreter

The importance of using qualified medical interpreters

How interpreters can improve access to care and outcome

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Barriers to Care

The issues creating barriers to healthcare for individuals are numerous. The greatest barrier to healthcare is health literacy. To define the scope of the issue, research conducted by the United States Department of Education found that thirty-two million adults cannot read above the fifth grade level and 20 percent of high school graduates cannot read. When foreign-born, non-English-speaking individuals are also considered, the magnitude of the problem is considerable.

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Statistical Information

There has been a growing trend directed toward vaccines and the American Pediatric Academy immunization schedule of immunization administration. The hesitancy, refusal, and delay of childhood vaccination have been associated with an elevated risk of vaccine-preventable disease. Diseases that were once considered eradiated or controlled are emerging in communities. The factors influencing the emergence of these diseases are immigrant settlement patterns, cultural factors, language barriers, religious beliefs, low educational levels, and socioeconomic status.

Displays a media that gives information about the immunization outcomes included in spatial analysis.

Lieu, T., Thomas, R., Klein, N., Chung, C., & Kulldorff, M. (2015). Geographic clusters in under-immunization and vaccine refusal. Pediatrics, 135(2).

Financial limitations are another significant barrier to accessing healthcare services and filling necessary prescriptions to manage chronic diseases. In addition, a substantial number of individuals of lower-socioeconomic status and the elderly have poor adherence to prescription medication, fail to manage a chronic disease, or fail to make needed lifestyle changes to mitigate declining quality of life.

Cultural differences are a challenge beyond language. Some cultures don’t realize the need for healthcare until they start feeling ill. In some cultures, religious beliefs prevent individuals from accepting certain medical services such as transfusion and immunization. In others, family dynamics center on a maternal or paternal paradigm, which guides the activity of family members. While each example seems extreme, the intent is to highlight the interwoven complex issues that surround barriers to care and diversity in society.

This complex web of barriers to care needs to be addressed collectively with a focus on demographics. The financial burden to address all the barriers is exhaustively expensive, and for some issues, there is no logical, or reasonable, approach. The burden of disease over the past few decades has shifted from the acute illness to a chronic health condition, which increases the importance of health literary. Select areas are impacted by specific issues in varying degrees. As such, the most significant should be addressed to have the greatest impact. One of the most significant barriers to bridge is health literacy. The approach to allow individuals to become more understanding of their illness and treatment can likely have far-reaching promise.

Cultural Differences in Healthcare

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There is a distinct difference between the notion of illness and disease. The idea of illness rests within the individual’s lived experience, while disease is a science-based event impacting populations. In a diverse society, healthcare can be complex and conflicting. Challenges to deliver healthcare become further complicated when intertwined with religious, cultural, and language barriers. Conceptually, Western and Eastern medicine vary and have subcultures unto their own history, language, codes of conduct, expectations, methods, and outcomes. The Western paradigm embraces science as its biological foundation and transcends the idea of religion and culture. Eastern wellness practices recognize the idea of the whole person, accepting spiritual, cultural, and religious overlays to this scientific basis. However, science demonstrates human populations are guided biological principles that surpass cultural dogmas.

Additional Materials

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This week, we discussed the growing social diversity in the United States and the resultant barriers to care. Use the information presented in the readings and identify three of the most pressing issues, which, if addressed, might have the greatest impact upon healthcare delivery. In your approach, you can elect to identify an issue specific to a local hospital catchment area. Taking this approach, include the regional demographics, the problem, the issues of diversity differences within the healthcare workforce, and your approach to an effective solution. In your narrative, also discuss whether the efforts would be effective in addressing the problem and improving the health outcomes.

To support your work, use your course and textbook readings and also use the South University Online Library. As in all assignments, cite your sources in your work and provide references for the citations in APA format.

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