268279 Are academic institutions teaching their students about the national standards for Culturally Linguistic Appropriate Services?

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 1:30 PM - 1:50 PM

Bonnie Dadig, PA-C, EdD , Physician Assistant Department, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, GA
Genny Carrillo Zuniga, MD, MPH, ScD , Department of Environmental Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health, McAllen, TX
Yoon-Ho Seol, PhD , Department of Health Informatics, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, GA
Kent Guion, MD, MA , Office of the Diversity and Inclusion, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, GA
Vivian Rice, BSM , Georgia Health Sciences Medical, Georgia Health Sciences University Health System, Augusta, GA
Norma Garza, BS , Department of Health Policy and Management, Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health, McAllen, TX
Background: In 2001, to address the rapidly changing demographics in the United States, 14 standards on culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) in health care were announced to fulfill needs of patients with limited English proficiency. Many communities have become more culturally and racially diverse, and studies have shown the need to use medical interpreters for hospital encounters. However, in many cases workers who speak the required language are used as “non-qualified interpreters” which risks poor outcomes.

Methods: A survey designed to examine self-perceived knowledge of the CLAS standards and experience with medical interpreters, previously administered in 2006, was administered again via email to faculty, residents, and students of the Colleges of Allied Health Sciences, Nursing, Dentistry, and Medicine. Periodic reminder emails used an electronic reminding system, and responses were accepted for two months after the initial date. Similar questions in 2006 and 2011 were compared.

Results: The total number of respondents was 528. In 2006, 72.6% reported they were “not at all familiar with CLAS” in comparison with 28.8% reported in 2011. In 2006 and 2011 the "strongly agreed" responses to “I know how to work with medical interpreters” changed from 16.5% to 24.9% respectively. The same trend was seen with the question, “I use medical interpreters when I have a Spanish-speaking patient”, which strongly agreed in 2006 with 25.5% and 35.4% in 2011.

Conclusions: This study, a follow-up of a previous survey, demonstrates an important improvement in the self-perceived knowledge of CLAS and use of medical interpreters at the academic center. Predictable health care access issues may arise because of the difficulty with health care professionals engaging and appropriately responding to the needs of limited-English speaking patients. By educating the health care workforce about mandatory CLAS standards and cultural and linguistic competency, improvements can be seen in patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness can be achieved.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Compare changes over several years with respect to the national standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) among faculty and students at an academic health center. Evaluate faculty members' and students' attitudes toward working with medical interpreters.

Keywords: Cultural Competency, Access to Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator on federally funded grants since 1984 focusing on primary care instruction of Physician Assistants and during that time have included federal support for the development of curriculum regarding providing CLAS, Culturally and Linguistic Appropriate Services to health care professionals.
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.