Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type



Public Health

Director of Thesis

Dr. Andrew Kaczynski

First Reader

Dr. Edena Guimaraes

Second Reader

Dr. Edena Guimaraes


Linguistically appropriate healthcare is a cornerstone of providing quality patient care. Provider-patient communication is imperative to achieving linguistically appropriate healthcare; unfortunately, language barriers introduced by different spoken languages of patients to their providers hinders this communication. Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) are ensured accessible healthcare under federal regulations such as the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS standards); however, a gap between patients with LEP and the healthcare system remains. Not only is there a gap in communication for patients with LEP to their providing physician, but there is a nationwide epidemic resulting in poor health outcomes because of the absence of effective medical interpretation. Thus, the current qualitative study examined the implications of these gaps on providing linguistically appropriate healthcare. This was explored firstly by compiling a thorough literature review of the topic, followed by conducting interviews with professional medical interpreters and the Director of Language Services at a local hospital; these perspectives are crucial to analysis because all interviewees had personal experiences with medical interpretation and its necessity in providing quality patient care. Data analysis resulted in four prominent themes recurring throughout the interviews, summarized as follows: LEP patient countries of origins/spoken dialects, defining the role of the medical interpreter, observed gaps and their implications on proper medical interpretation, and reducing these gaps. Thematic analysis aided the conclusion that a lack of knowledge about medical interpretation and the lack of education for providers on how to use a medical interpreter have extensive implications on providing linguistically appropriate healthcare. Future recommendations include expansion on the personnel interviewed to expand perspectives and experiences analyzed during the study; these could include Hispanic patients and their providers in both the hospital and primary care settings.

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© 2023, Elizabeth Pung