Non-English speaking patients more wary to speak up, ask questions, study finds

Patients and their caregivers with limited knowledge of English are less likely to speak up to healthcare providers and ask questions, according to a June 13 study published in JAMA Network Open.

The study, carried out at Boston Children's hospital, was conducted between April 2019 and March 2020 and asked more than 600 patients and caregivers to complete health and language literacy questions. 

The researchers found that patients with  limited English proficiency spoke up to providers in hospital less, questioned providers' decisions and actions less often and had a lower likelihood of asking questions when something doesn't seem right. The researchers also suggested that the lower likelihood of involvement from limited English speakers may mean that these patients may have higher hospital safety risks.

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