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Scripta Scientifica Medica

Report on a scoping study of language awareness in health and social care

G. Roberts, F. Irvine, Jim Richardson, C. Earles, E. Gareth, R. Prys


Language awareness is a topic of increasing debate in the health and social welfare literature because of its impact on improving health and reducing inequalities. Nevertheless, there is a paucity of rigorous research in this arena, resulting in a markedly weak evidence-base on which to establish language appropriate care practices. This has a particular bearing for linguistically diverse nations, such as Wales, where bilingual provision is a statutory requirement. This paper outlines the findings of a scoping study commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government to investigate language awareness in health and social care and establish plans for developing a national research and development network across Wales. The study included two main elements: (i) a systematic literature review and (ii) a questionnaire survey of key ice user representatives from health and social care sectors. The research was conducted over an eight-week period between March and April 2005.A purposeful sample of stakeholders and service user representatives were approached and invited to complete the questionnaire by e-mail. The data arising from the consultation exercise and literature review were analysed independently, leading to the establishment of a framework for research and development priorities based on key themes arising from each strand of enquiry. The study highlights the continuing need to build the evidence base to support and disseminate language appropriate practice in health and social care. The findings generated six priority areas. These emphasise the need to focus on strategic, organisational and personal levels of practice, whilst improving user involvement and establishing robust methods of evaluation. In view of the growing commitment amongst many developed countries to enhance language awareness in the delivery of health and social care services, the findings have important implications across a range of bilingual and multilingual settings worldwide.

Scripta Scientifica Medica 2007; 39(1):89-93

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About The Authors

G. Roberts
University of Wales
United Kingdom

F. Irvine
University of Wales Bangor
United Kingdom

Jim Richardson
University of Glamorgan
United Kingdom

C. Earles
University of Wales
United Kingdom

E. Gareth
Welsh Language Board
United Kingdom

R. Prys
Gwyneth Council
United Kingdom

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