Home Polls One-Third of Poll Responders Say Half of Their Patients Prefer a Language...

One-Third of Poll Responders Say Half of Their Patients Prefer a Language Over English

While about a quarter of respondents to a recent WO Pop-up Poll said that less than 10% of their patients would prefer to speak another language, the need to communicate with patients who prefer to speak a language other than English is substantial. As one respondent to the poll said, “We have a very diverse population. It is not at all unusual to have four different languages heard during the course of a day.”

WO Pop-up Poll, November 2023

Spanish is the most predominant language reflected in the population of the patients of those who responded, noted by nearly 90% of the respondents. Other languages cited include American Sign Language, Cambodian, Chinese, Creole, German, Greek, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese. These respondents said that either the doctor or one or more staff members speak or can have a basic conversation in the language(s) preferred by the patients.


The poll asked what steps practices take to accommodate those patients who would understand their exam more clearly if it were not conducted in English. Respondents could choose more than one response.

  • Nearly 69% of the respondents said that the doctor speaks enough of the language(s) preferred by patients to be able to conduct an exam.
  • 50% said that ordinarily, there’s at least one staff person on hand to help with translating.
  • 31% said that the staff will encourage the patient who prefers the exam to be done in a different language to bring someone to the exam with them.
  • 31% said that they have office materials available in English and in the language(s) spoken commonly in their patient population.
  • 25% said they use a translation service when necessary.
  • and 13% said there is rarely a need for translation.

Seventy-five percent of the respondents to this Pop-up Poll said they were female ODs; 19% said they were male ODs, and the remainder said they were non-OD females.

To view past polls and responses from WO, click here.

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