Title

The Language Barrier as a Detriment to the Healthy People Initiative

Presenter Information

Therese ElderFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Spanish

Minor

Community and Public Health

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Martin Kane

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

The Healthy People Initiative has been used as a lens through which public health officials in the United States focus their efforts towards the management of public and community health problems that affect significant populations or the entirety of the United States (healthypeople.gov). With benchmarks such as eliminating infectious diseases having been reached since past initiatives, one of the overarching goals that has appeared in the previous two initiatives that spanned 20 years explicitly involved the elimination of health disparities. While health disparities can be complex and involve economic, social, and political factors, other goals with similar barriers have made significantly more progress than the former, for example, the implementation of vaccines to reduce the prevalence of infectious diseases (McKenzie & Pinger 2015). The language barrier in the United States has the power to halt any health promotion strategy in its tracks, but lack of cultural competence tends to place the burden of surpassing the barrier on the public with "limited English proficiency" instead of the healthcare workers whose obligation it is to provide accessible care to the public. In order to achieve the Healthy People Initiative’s long-lasting goal of eliminating health disparities, healthcare officials must first acknowledge the role of the language barrier on health disparities in a non-partisan manner and implement appropriate strategies using Spanish-language translation services to surpass the barrier. Using information obtained by the United States Census and related population surveys, the aim of this paper is to highlight the role of the language barrier among existing health disparities and examine strategies and resources available to reduce these disparities, working ever closer to the goals set forth by the Healthy People 2020 Initiative.

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GLT 400

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The Language Barrier as a Detriment to the Healthy People Initiative

The Healthy People Initiative has been used as a lens through which public health officials in the United States focus their efforts towards the management of public and community health problems that affect significant populations or the entirety of the United States (healthypeople.gov). With benchmarks such as eliminating infectious diseases having been reached since past initiatives, one of the overarching goals that has appeared in the previous two initiatives that spanned 20 years explicitly involved the elimination of health disparities. While health disparities can be complex and involve economic, social, and political factors, other goals with similar barriers have made significantly more progress than the former, for example, the implementation of vaccines to reduce the prevalence of infectious diseases (McKenzie & Pinger 2015). The language barrier in the United States has the power to halt any health promotion strategy in its tracks, but lack of cultural competence tends to place the burden of surpassing the barrier on the public with "limited English proficiency" instead of the healthcare workers whose obligation it is to provide accessible care to the public. In order to achieve the Healthy People Initiative’s long-lasting goal of eliminating health disparities, healthcare officials must first acknowledge the role of the language barrier on health disparities in a non-partisan manner and implement appropriate strategies using Spanish-language translation services to surpass the barrier. Using information obtained by the United States Census and related population surveys, the aim of this paper is to highlight the role of the language barrier among existing health disparities and examine strategies and resources available to reduce these disparities, working ever closer to the goals set forth by the Healthy People 2020 Initiative.