Language barriers interfere with diabetes control

Language barriers may contribute to significantly poorer treatment outcomes in individuals with type 2 diabetes who cannot discuss their condition with their doctor in their native language.

A recent study published in Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that Latino diabetes patients who speak little English have significantly worse control of their blood sugar when they are forced to see a doctor who does not speak Spanish.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco analyzed survey responses from Latino diabetics who participated in a previous study on blood sugar control.

While there were no differences observed between English speakers and Spanish speakers who had access to an interpreter, individuals who did not have someone to translate for them were nearly twice as likely to have poor diabetes control.

"Diabetes is a complex disease that requires a high level of patient understanding and engagement for successful management," said Alicia Fernandez, who led the study. "These patients may need direct communication with Spanish speaking physicians to manage their disease appropriately."

She added that the Latino population is growing rapidly in the U.S. and that the demographic has significantly higher rates of diabetes.
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