Language Matters Between Patient- Physician  

Language Matters Between Patient- Physician

A patient speaking the same language as that of the physician can become healthier, according to a new research published in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Joumal).

The study showed that frail and older patients admitted to hospital who received care from physicians who spoke their primary language had shorter hospital stays, fewer falls and infections, and were less likely to die in hospital.

In the study, the researchers looked at 1,89,690 adult home care recipients who were admitted to hospital in Ontario between April 2010 and March 2018. The researchers compared patients who received care from a physician in their primary language and those who received care in a different language. Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, which is linguistically diverse.


About 33 per cent of the population speak a primary language other than English. Most home care recipients in the study spoke English (84 per cent), 13 per cent spoke French and 2.7 per cent spoke a language other than English or French. The most common language groups included Italian (8361 people), Mandarin (3426), IberoRomance (3162) and Indo-Aryan (2286). The research paper said that Francophones who were treated by a French-speaking physician had 24 per cent lower odds of death than those who received care from a non-French-speaking physician. For allophones, the results were even more striking, with 54 per cent lower odds of death. Harms while in hospital were also substantially reduced for patients who received language-concordant care.

On the study, co-author Dr. Peter Tanuseputro said that the findings that make a strong case for providing care in the same language for linguistic minorities in hospitals. The doctor is a physician scientist in the Department of Medicine of The Ottawa Hospital, Institut du Savoir Montfort and Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario. “It’s clearly easier to convey important information about your health in your primary language. Regardless, the more than doubling in odds of serious harms, including death, for patients receiving care in a different language is eye-opening,” Peter Tanuseputro said.

The authors suggest that clear, effective patient-physician communication may also improve patient cooperation and engagement, which is associated with better health outcomes. “We need to do more to make sure that patients are heard and understood, whether that’s by referring to physicians who speak the same language or by using interpreter services,” says lead author Emily Seale medical student at the University of Ottawa and Institut du Savoir Montfort, Ottawa. “This is not only good patient-centred care, but our research shows that there are grave health consequences when it doesn’t happen.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here