Multilingual competencies among ambulatory care providers in three German Federal States

2022-12-06 | journal article; research paper. A publication of Göttingen

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​Multilingual competencies among ambulatory care providers in three German Federal States​
Müller, F. ; Holman, H.; Hummers, E.; Schröder, D.   & Noack, E. M. ​ (2022) 
BMC Primary Care23(1) art. 315​.​ DOI: 

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Müller, Frank ; Holman, Harland; Hummers, Eva; Schröder, Dominik ; Noack, Eva Maria 
Abstract Background Providing medical care to newly arrived migrants presents multiple challenges. A major challenge is a lack of a common language in the absence of language interpretation services. We examine the multilingualism of German physicians and clinical psychotherapists providing ambulatory care. Methods We retrieved publicly available data from the Associations of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians provider registry of three German federal states (Lower Saxony, Saarland, Bavaria). We selected and grouped relevant practice-based disciplines. We used descriptive statistics to analyze the provider’s multilingualism among different disciplines. Results 69.6% of ambulatory providers offer consultations only in German. 15.5% of providers reported offering consultations in one additional non-German language, and 14.9% in two or more additional languages. Most common additional languages were English (28.6%) and French (9.9%). 1.4% of providers reported offering consultation in at least one language of the Middle Eastern region (Arabic, Dari, Hebrew, Kurdish, Pashtu, Farsi, and Turkish). There were differences in the offered languages between the medical disciplines with the highest mean rates found for gynecologists and obstetricians, urologists, and general surgeons. Psychotherapeutic disciplines offered consultation in other languages significantly less often. Conclusion Our study suggests a significant numeric mismatch in the number of providers offering consultations in the languages of people seeking protection in Germany. The resulting language barriers are compromising equitable access and quality of care.
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BMC Primary Care 
Institut für Allgemeinmedizin 
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2023



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