Journal of Undergraduate Research


patient-provider interactions, health care, multilingual communication




German and Russian


Previous research has examined the provider-patient relationship and the effect of different first languages and culture on such relationship (1,2,3). Most studies conducted in the United States have focused primarily on the interactions between English-speaking health care providers and Spanish-speaking patients. Such studies found a relationship between quality of communication and quality of care received by patients, (2,3). When the patient is minimally proficient in English the divide increases and patients receive less information. Similarly, the provider’s proficiency in the patient’s language correlates with the quality of communication and care. The purpose of this study was to investigate a broader range of languages, cultures and contexts in both North America and German-speaking countries. In particular, we examine how providers, patients and translators view the effectiveness of communication as well as how confident and comfortable they feel about the patient-provider relationship across cultural and linguistic barriers. The results will allow us to answer three questions: 1) to what extent does the country in which the interaction takes place play a role in the communication, 2) to what extent do the culture and language of providers and patients play a role in the communication, and 3) does the use of a translator help facilitate higher quality communication?