RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Hablamos Juntos (Together We Speak): interpreters, provider communication, and satisfaction with care.

BACKGROUND: The Hablamos Juntos-Together We Speak (HJ)--national demonstration project targeted the improvement of language access for Spanish-speaking Latinos in areas with rapidly growing Latino populations. The objective of HJ was to improve doctor-patient communication by increasing access to and quality of interpreter services for Spanish-speaking patients.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate how access to interpreters for adult Spanish-speaking Latinos is associated with ratings of doctor/office staff communication and satisfaction with care.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional cohort study.

PATIENTS: A total of 1,590 Spanish-speaking Latino adults from eight sites across the United States who participated in the outpatient HJ evaluation.

MEASUREMENTS: We analyzed two multi-item measures of doctor communication (4 items) and office staff helpfulness (2 items), and one global item of satisfaction with care by interpreter use. We performed regression analyses to control for patient sociodemographic characteristics, survey year, and clustering at the site of care.

RESULTS: Ninety-five percent of participants were born outside the US, 81% were females, and survey response rates ranged from 45% to 85% across sites. In this cohort of Spanish-speaking patients, those who needed and always used interpreters reported better experiences with care than their counterparts who needed but had interpreters unavailable. Patients who always used an interpreter had better adjusted ratings of doctor communication [effect size (ES = 0.51)], office staff helpfulness (ES = 0.37), and satisfaction with care (ES = 0.37) than patients who needed but did not always use an interpreter. Patients who needed and always used interpreters also reported better experiences with care in all three domains measured [doctor communication (ES = 0.30), office staff helpfulness (ES = 0.21), and satisfaction with care (ES = 0.23)] than patients who did not need interpreters.

CONCLUSIONS: Among adult Spanish-speaking Latinos, interpreter use is independently associated with higher satisfaction with doctor communication, office staff helpfulness, and ambulatory care. Increased attention to the need for effective interpreter services is warranted in areas with rapidly growing Spanish-speaking populations.

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