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New Study Finds COVID Outcomes Tied to Patient’s Preferred Language

New Study Finds COVID Outcomes Tied to Patient’s Preferred Language

An analysis released last month found that people with language preferences other than English or who need an interpreter took longer to access COVID-19 vaccination, and were more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, compared to those whose first language was English.

The analysis, developed by researchers at the National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM), a Migrant Clinicians Network partner, zeroed in on language access as a key element to ensure timely, high-quality health care and to improve health equity.

"In a health care setting, language is more than a communication tool. It conveys respect, upholds a patient’s dignity, and gives patients autonomy over their care,” said Nasreen Quadri, MD, an adjunct assistant professor affiliated with the University of Minnesota Medical School, physician collaborator with NRC-RIM, and lead author of the study.

The study included over 851,000 people in Minnesota and western Wisconsin whose self-identified language preference was a language other than English, or who needed an interpreter. Although the study was geographically limited, its findings may be valid across the United States.

"This study suggests that routine data collection of a patient’s preferred language and interpreter needs should be standard of practice and could provide key information on improving health equity in the US,” said William Stauffer, MD, a professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Director of Human Migration and Health at the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility. 

Read the complete analysis, published in JAMA Network Open: Evaluation of Preferred Language and Timing of COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Disease Outcomes