379: Speaking in tongues: A National Physician Survey (NPS) study of languages spoken by family physicians in Canada.

J. Eriksson, I. Grava-Gubins, A. Safarov
Research, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Mississauga, Canada
Canada has one of the most multilingual populations in the world. English and French are Canada’s two official languages, but neither language is the mother tongue for many in Canada. In 2011, approximately 280,000 individuals immigrated to Canada. Of these, close to 27% did not speak one of the official languages. Often depending on others to communicate with physicians, this creates difficulties when communicating about personal/sensitive health issues. Previous studies show language barriers during patient-physician interactions to be associated with undesirable outcomes in primary care, including a lack of understanding about their medical condition, and lower health outcomes in general.
The National Physician Survey (NPS) is a comprehensive physician workforce study of all current and future physicians in Canada, conducted by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2004, 2007 and 2010. We asked about the languages which FPs in Canada use with their patients.
The 2010 NPS data shows that 54.7% of FPs in Canada only speak English with patients, & 9.0% speak only French. However, 15.8% of all FPs in Canada indicated also speaking a non-official language with patients. It is unclear whether speakers of non-official languages have access to primary care through a family physician in their own language. We examined and compared the languages spoken by potential patients and the languages spoken by family physicians providing care in three large urban areas in Canada (Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver and Montreal).

Disclosure: No conflict of interest declared