Patient-physician language concordance and use of preventive care services among limited English proficient Latinos and Asians

Public Health Rep. Mar-Apr 2015;130(2):134-42. doi: 10.1177/003335491513000206.


Objectives: Patient-physician language concordance among limited English proficient (LEP) patients is associated with better outcomes for specific clinical conditions. Whether or not language concordance contributes to use of specific preventive care services is unclear.

Methods: We pooled data from the 2007 and 2009 California Health Interview Surveys to examine mammography, colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, and influenza vaccination use among self-identified LEP Latino and Asian (i.e., Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese) immigrants. We defined language concordance by respondents reporting that their physician spoke their non-English language. Analyses were completed in 2013-2014.

Results: Language concordance did not appear to facilitate mammography use among Latinas (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.02, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.72, 1.45). Among Asian women, we could not definitively exclude a negative association of language concordance with mammography (AOR=0.55, 95% CI 0.27, 1.09). Patient-physician language concordance was associated with lower odds of CRC screening among Asians but not Latinos (Asian AOR=0.50, 95% CI 0.29, 0.86; Latino AOR=0.85, 95% CI 0.56, 1.28). Influenza vaccination did not differ by physician language use among either Latinos or Asians.

Conclusions: Patient-physician language concordance was not associated with higher use of mammography, CRC screening, or influenza vaccination. Language concordance was negatively associated with CRC screening among Asians for reasons that require further research. Future research should isolate the impact of language concordance on the use of preventive care services from health system factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian Americans*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Language
  • Male
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Influenza Vaccines