First Advisor

Claire Wheeler

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in World Languages & Literatures: Spanish and University Honors






Communication in medicine, Transcultural medical care, Linguistic minorities -- Medical care, Rural health services -- Oregon




Persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) can face barriers when seeking health care. Rural communities often have reduced access to some health resources. However, little is known about how rural communities meet the language needs of their LEP populations. A cross-sectional survey and interview were designed and sent to managerial staff in rural health centers around the state of Oregon. During the months of January – March 2020, survey and interview data were collected to assess the relationship between frequency of LEP patient visits and available language resources in rural Oregon. The study also investigated staff perceptions when working with patients with LEP. Data responses came from centers in mainly northern, northeastern, and coastal regions of the state. Data suggested that clinics that see higher numbers of patients with LEP have more onsite bilingual staff and interpreter resources available than health centers with less regular LEP patient visits. Clinics preferred the use of bilingual staff during visits, rather than relying on remote interpreting services, and preferred onsite interpretation, instead of remote interpretation. Further, clinics perceived that the population of LEP patients was growing across the state. One promising method for meeting demands of language resources is implementing certification courses for bilingual care staff and community members. State-subsidized certification courses could increase the availability of certified bilingual health workers trained in medical interpretation, as well as provide opportunities for bilingual community members to become trained as certified medical interpreters.


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