Tip of the Week
“On the Autism Spectrum: Families Find Help and Hope,” is a series of five short films produced by the Minnesota Department of Human Services that raise awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and services available to Minnesota families. The videos are aimed at specific communities, including:
The films provide support for families experiencing ASD within communities that have historically underutilized available resources. Each 15-20 minute film features interviews with parents, advocates, medical professionals, educators, and community leaders speaking in the language of the target community, with subtitles in English.
Here’s a thought-provoking article from Psychology Today that explores how language can affect memory and behavior. Author Viorica Marian, Ph.D., psycholinguist at Northwestern University, describes how memories of multilingual people are linked to the language used while the event occurred. “Memories,” she observes, “will often be more emotional when there is a match between the language spoken when the experience took place and the language spoken when remembering it.”
Among the results:
- multilingual speakers may experience more stress when taboo words are spoken in their native language;
- but they may be less biased and more consistent in their non-native language;
- and their assessment of risk may be altered depending on the power and variety of examples that come to mind — which, again, may depend on the language spoken when previous examples presented themselves.
Where’s the significance for health care providers? This is how Marian sees it: “How risky something feels affects the choices that we make for everything from medical decisions to national security. For example, in the United States, over 25% of doctors are foreign-born and many of their patients speak another language as well. It is important to be aware of how the language being spoken may be influencing the decisions we and others around us make.”
What if it was widely understood that Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had said, “We will outlast you,” instead of “We will bury you,” in 1956 at the height of the Cold War?
What if, days before the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japanese prime minister Kantaro Suzuki had been correctly understood to tell a US emissary, “No comment. We need more time,” instead of being thought to convey an attitude of “silent contempt”?
The perils of sketchy translation and interpretation are explored in a New York Times opinion piece, “Why Mistranslation Matters” by Mark Polizzotti. Pilizzotti, author of the recent book, Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto, lays out a series of translation- and interpretation-inspired misconceptions, starting with the so-called apple tree in the Garden of Eden.
Looking for a compendium of resources on cross-cultural communication and language access? Here’s a web page loaded with tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among the links you’ll find here:
- a language access portal available via the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities,
- help on how to address the National Cultural and Linguistically Appropriate Service (CLAS0 standards,
- the Guide to Providing Effective Communication and Language Assistance Services from the Office of Minority Health,
- plus more.
For anyone with children (or really, anyone at all) the news about Central American immigrant kids being separated from their parents is heart-rending. But that’s not to say that American history is free of numerous other similar examples.
Get some historical perspective in this piece by CNN: Actually, the US Has a Long History of Separating Families. The story is a brief reminder that African-American slaves, native people, Mexican immigrants in the 1930s and Japanese-Americans during World War II all experienced family separation.
CNN’s final analysis: “Critics say the policy… is not emblematic of who we are as a nation. Others say it runs counter to the America they know and love. But history shows policies like this have been implemented time and time again since the nation began.”
The topic in this short video isn’t health care — it’s about a new version of The Odyssey rendered by Classicist Dr. Emily Wilson. As the first woman to translate The Odyssey into English, she discovered that many men before her added sexist or misogynist terms that never existed in the original Greek.
Though interesting in itself, it also raises perplexing questions for health care providers. What cultural notes are being added or subtracted by interpreters during a patient/provider encounter?
Here’s another dimension of the move toward outcome-based pay for providers. In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, Dhruv Khullar, a NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital doctor and researcher at the Weill Cornell Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, reflects on the difficulty in reaching similar outcomes for patients with radically different incomes and lifestyles.
“Value-based payment models try to measure quality, outcomes and costs — and reward or penalize providers based on their performance,” Khullar observes. “They generally adjust for patients’ medical problems, but not social ones.”
His experience as a resident with a load of impoverished patients showed him the flaw in buried within an unadjusted value-based payment system. “What strained our abilities,” Khullar writes, “was not our patients’ medical complexity, but their social problems: They were poorer, less educated, more isolated, from rougher neighborhoods. We quickly learned that while it’s hard to dose insulin, it’s harder still for a patient who speaks no English, has no refrigerator and regularly has his medications stolen.”
Of course you’ve been wondering, What are the top ten movies of all time that feature interpreters? Well, wonder no more. That list has now been assembled by the United Kingdom blog, Kwintessential. Take a look here.
The top ten includes familiar titles such as Lost in Translation, Zero Dark Thirty and Amistad. Then there’s the film, Desert Flower, that lays out the problems with non-professional medical interpretation.
But there’s also a touch of the screwball, such as the entry, The Mummy. This 1999 film features an Egyptologist, who, thanks to her knowledge of ancient Egyptian, stops a 3,000-year old mummy from destroying the world. Luckily.
It’s time to check out the latest edition of the Minnesota Health Literacy Partnership’s e-newsletter, In the Know: Health literacy news and best practices.
The new issue covers topics such as health literacy training for dental professionals, and how to make informed consent more patient-centered. Plus you’ll find the usual helpful listings of health literacy resources and events.
View the newsletter here. And look forward to additional issues in the future, as In the Know moves to quarterly publication.
Bonus Tip: Last week’s tip, originally titled New to Using Interpreters, drew a worth-noting objection from a reader, who observed: “Utilizing the term ‘use an interpreter’ has become offensive and inappropriate in the field of language access nationwide. The proper term is to say “to work with an interpreter.” Interpreters are not objects to be used. Interpreters are professional human beings who are working very hard to raise the bar, have a code of ethics, and have a couple of national bodies that certify them professionally.”
Have colleagues who are working with interpreters for the first time? Here’s a short video that covers the basics.
For old hands, the video’s directives might seem obvious, but for first time users these instructions on seating, sentence length, frequent pauses, maintaining eye contact and avoiding jargon might make the difference between a satisfying encounter and a mini-disaster.
The video is produced by Border TV, an arm of the Australian government. Find more videos — including a collection of interviews with refugees — here.