Experiences and Communication Preferences in Pregnancy Care Among Patients With a Spanish Language Preference: A Qualitative Study

Obstet Gynecol. 2023 Nov 1;142(5):1227-1236. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000005369. Epub 2023 Sep 13.


Objective: To explore Spanish-speaking patients' experiences and preferences regarding communication during pregnancy care with specific attention to language barriers.

Methods: Patients with a Spanish language preference who gave birth between July 2022 and February 2023 at an academic medical center were invited to participate in focus groups. Focus groups were held over Zoom, audio-recorded, transcribed in Spanish, translated into English, and reviewed for translation accuracy. Thematic analysis was conducted with deductive and inductive approaches. Three investigators double-coded all transcripts, and discrepancies were resolved through team consensus.

Results: Seven focus groups (27 total participants, range 2-6 per group) were held. Three key themes emerged regarding patient experiences and communication preferences when seeking pregnancy care: 1) language concordance and discordance between patients and clinicians are not binary-they exist on a continuum; 2) language-discordant care is common and presents communication challenges, even with qualified interpreters present; and 3) language discordance can be overcome with positive interpersonal dynamics between clinicians and patients.

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the importance of relationship to overcome language discordance among patients with limited English proficiency during pregnancy care. These findings inform potential structural change and patient-clinician dyad interventions to better meet the communication needs of patients with limited English proficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Communication Barriers
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Pregnancy