Spanish-speaking people represent more than 12% of the total population in the United States and are poised to become the largest minority group in the U.S. by 2015. Although researchers have studied pharmacist-patient communication for approximately 30 years, little emphasis has been placed on the interactions between pharmacists and Spanish-speaking patients.
The objectives of this review are 1) to describe empirical studies on Spanish-speaking patient/pharmacist communication examined relative to patient factors, pharmacist factors, and environmental factors that may influence Spanish-speaking patient/pharmacist communication and 2) to integrate medical and nursing literature to generate a research agenda for future study in this area.
We compiled articles from a systematic review of (1) CINAHL, International Pharmacy Abstracts, Pub Med, and Web of Knowledge databases using “Hispanic limited English proficiency”, “Latino limited English proficiency”, “language-assistance services”, “Spanish-speaking patients”, “Latino patients”, “Spanish-speaking health literacy”, “pharmacy health literacy”, “patient-provider communication”, “pharmacy language barriers”, (2) bibliographies of selected articles.
This search generated 1,174 articles, 7 of which met the inclusion criteria. We categorized the results into four topic areas: “Spanish-speaking patient literacy,” “pharmacists knowledge of/proficiency in the Spanish language,” “pharmacy resources to overcome language barriers,” and “pharmacists’ attitudes towards communicating with Spanish-speaking patients.”
These studies provide a macroscopic look at the linguistic services offered in pharmacies, gaps in services, and their subsequent impact on pharmacists and patients. Future research should investigate Spanish-speaking patients’ literacy issues, pharmacy staff language skills, factors that influence pharmacists’ counseling, and language assistance programs for pharmacists and patients. Furthermore, these studies need to be conducted in large Hispanic/Latino populated areas where positive service models are likely to be present. Addressing these issues will provide pharmacists and pharmacies with information to overcome language barriers and provide Spanish-speaking patients with quality care.
Keywords: Hispanic limited English proficiency, language-assistance services, Spanish-speaking patients, patient-provider communication, pharmacy language barriers