For more information, contact:
Maureen Cozine, RWJF News Line, 609/627-5937
Yolanda Partida, Hablamos Juntos, 909/607-9834
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW PROGRAM TO TACKLE LANGUAGE BARRIERS BETWEEN PATIENTS AND
HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS IN TEN COMMUNITIES NATIONWIDE
Hablamos Juntos - We Speak Together - will address disparities in care for Latinos
Princeton, N.J., October 15, 2002 - Communication between provider and patient is of critical importance in a successful health care interaction. As the Latino population in the United States continues to grow, reducing language barriers can play an important role in improving health care and reducing ethnic disparities. the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded grants to ten organizations (see attached list) through a new program, Hablamos Juntos: Improving Patient-Provider Communication for Latinos, to develop affordable models to help English-speaking providers communicate more effectively with their Spanish-speaking patients. "Hablamos Juntos" translates from Spanish to English as "We Speak Together."
"Imagine walking into your doctor's office to find that he has left his hearing aid at home. What confidence can you have as a patient that you were understood? What confidence can your doctor have that he diagnosed and treated you correctly?" said Pamela Dickson, senior program officer at RWJF. "Hablamos Juntos will work to develop creative solutions for Spanish-speaking patients that we hope will ultimately serve as models for other groups."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 44 million Americans speak a language other than English at home and nearly 21 million Americans are not proficient in English. The proportion of the population speaking English less than "very well" increased by 39% between 1990 and 2000. Of these, Spanish speakers comprise more than half. Additionally, the nation's Latino population grew 57.9 percent from 1990 to 2000, from 22.3 million to 35.3 million. By the year 2050, Latinos are expected to comprise 25 percent of the total U.S. population - double the current 12.5 percent.
"We know from talking to providers that they have more trouble making a diagnosis when there is a language barrier and are more concerned with the risks of complications when they do not know about patients' medical history or other treatments they are receiving," said Yolanda Partida, national program director for Hablamos Juntos, based at the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, affiliated with Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif. "It is a problem for patients as well, when providers are unable to meet informed consent responsibilities or explain the options available for care. The inability to speak English, in particular, has been empirically associated with less care-seeking and diminished access for patients. Given the rapid rise in the Latino population there is a tremendous need for better models of interpretive services and strategies to have these services available for all health organizations in a community."
The ten Hablamos Juntos projects will use their $150,000 planning grants over the next year to design innovative, affordable models to improve patient-provider communication, including language interpretation services, printed materials, and signage. Upon successful completion of the planning phase, each site will be eligible for a two-year grant of up to $850,000 to implement the proposed model.
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to basic health care at reasonable cost; to improve care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse -- tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.
Founded in 1985, the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute advances critical, insightful thinking on key issues affecting Latino communities through objective, policy-relevant research and its implications, for the betterment of the nation.