More Than Half of US Hospitals Have Language Services

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Nearly 70% of hospitals in the United States offer language services.
Nearly 70% of hospitals in the United States offer language services.

(HealthDay News) -- Overall, 68.8% of hospitals offer language services, with the proportion increasing with level of need, according to research published in the August issue of Health Affairs.

Melody K. Schiaffino, PhD, MPH, from San Diego State University, and colleagues used 2 major data sets to compare hospital characteristics, availability of language services, and the need for them across 4514 general US hospitals.

The researchers found that, nationwide, 68.8% of hospitals offered language services; the proportion increased with level of need, from 65.4% to 74.7% in low-need and high-need areas, respectively. Areas of low need were widely distributed across the United States, with no definitive geographic pattern; there was also no definitive geographic pattern for whether hospitals offered language services. There were multiple areas of moderate and high need without hospital language services. Of the hospitals that offered language services, the largest proportion were private and not-for-profit.

"Further study is necessary to develop models that predict which low-need areas will remain so, and which will become moderate- or high-need areas over time. We can see that diversity in the United States includes not only race and ethnicity but also language, culture, and geography," the researchers wrote. "Hospitals need to take this context into account if they are to deliver care that is consistent with the changing needs of their communities."


  1. Schiaffino MK, Nara A, Mao L. Language Services In Hospitals Vary By Ownership And Location. Health Aff. 2016;35(8):1399-1403.
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