Language Barriers May Interfere with the Care of Asthma Patients

Juan P. Wisnivesky, MD, MPH, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has authored a paper showing that Hispanics with limited proficiency in English are at higher risk of worse asthma outcomes.

New York, NY
 – January 29, 2009 /Press Release/  –– 

Juan P. Wisnivesky, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine has authored a paper showing how language barriers may interfere with the care of asthma patients in New York City and New Jersey. The study will be published in Medical Care in the February 23rd issue.

The paper, titled Assessing the Relationship between Language Proficiency and Asthma Morbidity amongst Inner-city Asthmatics, shows that Hispanics with limited English proficiency are at higher risk of worse asthma outcomes. As part of the study, Dr Wisnivesky and his team interviewed 318 inner-city asthmatics from two large outpatient clinics in New York City and New Jersey. The patients were classified into three groups, non-Hispanics, Hispanics proficient in English and Hispanics with limited English proficiency. Researchers then assessed their asthma symptoms, quality of life, Emergency Room visits and hospitalizations over a period of three months.

We evaluated patient’s understanding of asthma, asthma management and adherence to asthma medications, said Dr Wisnivesky. "We found that Hispanics with limited English proficiency had worse symptoms, quality of life and increased risk of Emergency Room visits and hospitalizations compared with the other two groups."

Additionally, the patients with limited English had worse understanding of the disease, poorer self-management, and lower adherence. The results show that Hispanics with limited English proficiency are at higher risk of worse asthma outcomes.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Mount Sinai Hospital is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. Founded in 1852, Mount Sinai today is a 1,171-bed tertiary-care teaching facility that is internationally acclaimed for excellence in clinical care. Last year, nearly 50,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients, and there were nearly 450,000 outpatient visits to the Medical Center.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine is internationally recognized as a leader in groundbreaking clinical and basic-science research, as well as having an innovative approach to medical education. With a faculty of more than 3,400 in 38 clinical and basic science departments and centers, Mount Sinai ranks among the top 20 medical schools in receipt of National Institute of Health (NIH) grants.