In the Right Words: Addressing Language and Culture in Providing Health Care

In the Right Words: Addressing Language and Culture in Providing Health Care

Effective health care relies on communication: Physicians must listen to medical histories and symptoms in order to make a diagnosis, and patients must describe their health problems and then understand the treatments recommended to address those problems. Earlier this year, Grantmakers in Health, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to helping foundations and corporate giving programs improve the nation's health, convened experts in health care, philanthropy, and policy to explore the ways in which language barriers can hinder this process and lead to significant health problems. Based on the discussion, GIH's latest issue brief, In the Right Words: Addressing Language and Culture in Providing Health Care (54 pages, PDF), describes the consequences of language barriers within the nation's healthcare systems, reviews relevant laws and policies as well as recent immigration trends and demographic changes that increase the need for language services, and calls on grantmakers to support improved language services throughout those systems.