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Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery:
doi: 10.1097/SPV.0b013e318288ac1c
Original Articles

Communication Barriers Among Spanish-Speaking Women With Pelvic Floor Disorders: Lost in Translation?

Khan, Aqsa A. MD*; Sevilla, Claudia MD*; Wieslander, Cecilia K. MD; Moran, Meghan B. PhD; Rashid, Rezoana BS§; Mittal, Brita BS*; Maliski, Sally L. RN, PhD*; Rogers, Rebecca G. MD; Anger, Jennifer T. MD, MPH§

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Objectives: The purpose of our study was to evaluate barriers in communication and disease understanding among office staff and interpreters when communicating with Spanish-speaking women with pelvic floor disorders.

Methods: We conducted a qualitative study to evaluate barriers to communication with Spanish-speaking women with pelvic floor disorders among office staff and interpreters. Sixteen office staff and interpreters were interviewed; interview questions focused on experiences with Spanish-speaking patients with pelvic floor disorders in the clinic setting. Interview transcripts were analyzed qualitatively using grounded theory methodology.

Results: Analysis of the interview transcripts revealed several barriers in communication as identified by office staff and interpreters. Three major classes were predominant: patient, interpreter, and system-related barriers. Patient-related barriers included a lack of understanding of anatomy and medical terminology and inhibited discussions due to embarrassment. Provider-related barriers included poor interpreter knowledge of pelvic floor vocabulary and the use of office staff without interpreting credentials. System-related barriers included poor access to information. From these preliminary themes, an emergent concept was revealed: it is highly likely that Spanish-speaking women with pelvic floor disorders have poor understanding of their condition owing to multiple obstacles in communication.

Conclusions: There are many levels of barriers to communications with Latin women treated for pelvic floor disorders, arising from the patient, interpreter, and the system itself. These barriers contribute to a low level of understanding of their diagnosis, treatment options, and administered therapies.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins


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