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Patient-provider language barriers linked to worse diabetes control
Date:10/6/2010

Patients who cannot discuss their diabetes with a doctor in their own language may have poorer health outcomes, even when interpreter services are available, according to a new study by researchers at UCSF and the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

The study found that, among Latino diabetes patients with limited English skills, those seen by non-Spanish speaking doctors were nearly twice as likely to have poor control of their blood sugar than those whose doctors spoke Spanish.

Findings will appear in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine and are available online at www.SpringerLink.com.

The study, conducted among patients with access to interpreters, is the first to link language barriers with worse diabetes-related health outcomes. It examined only Spanish speakers.

"Diabetes is a complex disease that requires a high level of patient understanding and engagement for successful management," said Alicia Fernandez, MD, a UCSF professor of medicine and lead author of the study. "These patients may need direct communication with Spanish-speaking physicians to manage their disease appropriately."

The team surveyed adults with diabetes who are part of the Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE), involving patients from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry, and compared rates of blood sugar control among Latino patients.

Overall, the study found that Latino patients had worse control of their disease than English-speaking Caucasian patients: even English-speaking Latinos have almost double the rates of poor blood sugar control compared to Caucasians.

However, researchers found no difference in blood sugar control between English-speaking Latinos and non-English speaking Latinos if they had access to a doctor who spoke their language. When Latinos with limited English had a doctor who did
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Contact: Kristen Bole
kristen.bole@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California -- San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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