Georgia State University's latest innovation for non-English speaker patients

Sophie-Ann McCulloch

ATLANTA, GA — The Adult Literacy Research Center at the College of Education & Human Development and the School of Public Health of Georgia State University developed a healthcare ‘toolkit’ that features many languages.

The language barrier is one of the most typical problems found every day at Ethne Clinic in Clarkston. There are over 26 different languages used by the patients handled by Drs. Andrew and Esther Kim and many of the patients have chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

“Explaining how to manage their disease in their native language is often a challenge, especially when it comes to food and medicine,” Kim said.

The problem becomes a real challenge when handling vulnerable refugee, migrant and immigrant communities. Not only language and cultural differences, but low levels of literacy and health literacy are also part of the daily obstacle to be faced by the medical professionals.

This toolkit is expected to bridge the gap by giving videos and brochures explained various health topics in 13 different languages. Not only giving information in the patient’s language, this toolkit is also made culturally sensitive.

“If the patient watching the video speaks the same language as the characters in the video, she’ll be receiving critical health information in a linguistically and culturally relevant way,” said Director of the Clarkson Center for Community Engagement at Perimeter College, Dr. Mary Helen.

It is hoped that this toolkit will overcome the language barrier and improve the health outcomes in the communities. The efficacy of this innovation will also be evaluated by the clinicians for the next few months.

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