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.