Patient-Reported Quality of Communication Skills in the Clinical Workplace for Clinicians Learning Medical Spanish


Introduction Patient-clinician communication is a key factor in patient satisfaction with care. Clinicians take medical language courses to improve communication with linguistically diverse populations, yet little is known about how patients perceive clinicians' skills. Methods We designed a prospective, comparative survey study of patient perception of clinician communication using a convenience sampling of health professionals enrolled in an interprofessional medical Spanish course. We analyzed the patient-reported quality of communication skills from 214 clinical encounters and self-evaluations of 18 clinicians with Spanish- and English-speaking patients. Results Communication scores were lower for Spanish vs. English encounters as reported by both patients and clinicians (p<0.001). Clinician-reported scores were lower than patient-reported scores in Spanish encounters (9.05±0.23 vs. 8.05±0.23; p<0.001), whereas there was no difference in English encounters (11.17±0.15 vs. 11.35±0.19; p=0.914). The effect of language remained significant (p<0.001) when controlling for medical setting and complexity. Conclusion Spanish-speaking patients report lower-quality communication from clinicians learning Spanish than do English-speaking patients. Incorporating and further evaluating patient perceptions of clinician Spanish communication skills may improve language-appropriate healthcare and clinician education.