HCALM-Network Featured Article

Exploring the determinants of language barriers in health care (LBHC):
Toward a research agenda for the language sciences
Norman Segalowitz and Eva Kehayia

– Abstract –

There is growing interest in language barriers in health care (LBHC) – interest, that is, in how the quality of health care service delivery might be compromised when patients and health care providers do not share the same first language. This article discusses LBHC as an emerging research area that provides valuable opportunities for researchers in various branches of the language sciences – including, among others, applied linguistics, theoretical linguistics, psycholinguistics, second language acquisition – to conduct basic research and to make contributions to the socially important area of medical communication. This article also proposes a research agenda aimed at attracting general language researchers to the study of LBHC, an agenda that is theory driven, programmatic, problem-solving oriented, and interdisciplinary in scope. In proposing this agenda, selected examples have been reviewed from the current literature that can serve as illustrative models for how future research into LBHC can proceed.

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