Parental limited English proficiency in pediatric stem cell transplantation: Clinical impact and health care utilization

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2021 Sep;68(9):e29174. doi: 10.1002/pbc.29174. Epub 2021 Jun 9.


Background: Limited English proficiency (LEP) is associated with adverse clinical outcomes. The clinical impact of LEP in hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) has not been studied. The objectives of this study were to compare HSCT outcomes and health care utilization of Hispanic pediatric patients with and without parental LEP.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of Hispanic/Latino pediatric patients receiving HSCT at a single institution. Families were identified as LEP or English proficient (EP) based on clinicians' notes, social work documentation, or the signature of a Spanish interpreter on treatment consents.

Results: A total of 83 Hispanic/Latino patients were identified with 53 (65.1%) having parental LEP. More patients in the LEP group had a documented financial burden at pretransplant psychosocial evaluation (72.2% vs. 41.4%, p = .009). LEP patients were more likely to have health insurance coverage through government-sponsored Medicaid (76.9% vs. 27.6%, p < .001). LEP patients were hospitalized on average 13 days longer than EP patients, and LEP patients were more likely to have pretransplant cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivity (67.3%) than EP patients (p = .001). Overall survival was lower in LEP than EP, but was not statistically significant (p = .193). Multivariable Cox modeling suggested a potentially higher risk of death in LEP versus EP (hazard ratio = 1.56, 95% CI: 0.38, 6.23).

Conclusions: Parental LEP in HSCT is associated with prolonged hospitalization and pretransplant CMV reactivity. These factors are associated with posttransplant complications and death. Our results suggest parental LEP is a risk factor for poor HSCT outcomes. Further study is warranted in a larger cohort.

Keywords: health disparities; limited English proficiency; pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Limited English Proficiency*
  • Parents
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States