199096 Emergency preparedness, communication systems, and response: A Chinese limited English proficiency community perspective

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brandon N. Ong, MD , Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Sherry X. Feng , Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Mei-Po Yip, PhD , Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Becca Calhoun, MPH , School of Public Health, NW Preparedness and Emergency Response Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Mabel Kwong , Chinese Information and Service Center, Seattle, WA
Ida Lam , Chinese Information and Service Center, Seattle, WA
Hendrika Meischke, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Shin-Ping Tu, MD MPH , Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background: Acquiring information during an emergency is challenging for people with limited English proficiency (LEP). Chinese speakers comprise a large but understudied population in preparedness research. Little is known about how Chinese LEP communities access communication systems and interact with emergency services providers during acute and extended emergency situations.

Methods: We are conducting 4 focus groups with 40 adult Chinese speakers living in Seattle, Washington. Eligible subjects include Chinese speakers, aged 18 years or older, who self-reported LEP. All focus groups are conducted in either Mandarin or Cantonese, audiotaped, translated, and transcribed. Each transcript is read and coded independently by project staff, and entered into Atlas.ti for further analysis.

Results: Preliminary results suggest the major strategy for dealing with emergencies is to seek the help of others who understand English, such as children, friends, and neighbors. Accessing media such as TV, radio, and the Internet is also common. However, both strategies have limitations that may affect the quality of information received. Participants thought calling 9-1-1 was appropriate if they felt unable to deal with an emergency, but discussions revealed concerns about their ability to communicate effectively and worries about incurring charges for 9-1-1 services.

Discussion: Language barriers are a predominant factor affecting both communication and access to information during emergencies. To provide information, services, and support, it is important for government and public health organizations to use a variety of resources to connect emergency services with LEP populations.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify knowledge, gaps, and barriers to emergency preparedness from a limited English proficiency (LEP) perspective 2. Discuss factors that affect emergency communication 3. Analyze the needs of LEP speakers during an emergency

Keywords: Disasters, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am involved in clinical research in the field of emergency preparedness and vulnerable populations. I am also a Medical Officer of the WA-1 DMAT team.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.