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Language Barriers in Medicine

Thomas W. Chapman, MPH
JAMA. 1995;274(9):683-684. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530090013009.
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To the Editor.  —Dr Woloshin and colleagues1 are to be commended for advancing dialogue on language barriers. However, language barriers are just the apex of the complex social and cultural barriers that prevent people from obtaining the health care they need and deserve. As the United States grapples with immigrant, refugee, race, and class issues, rapidly changing demographics have revealed the present health care system to be out of step with the reality of values, history, and cultural or social complexity within communities.Opening Doors, a grant initiative jointly sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, supports replicable solutions to reduce sociocultural barriers to health care. One of our grantees, Asian Health Services, is implementing a language and cultural cooperative that will provide interpreters (skilled in cultural and linguistic telephone interpretation in Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Spanish) to area health care providers to


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