Inclusive Healthcare and the Power of Language

Spanish is the first language for over 460 million people around the globe, making it the language with the second largest population of native speakers in the world. Mexico holds the title for the largest population of Spanish speakers in one country, with the United States coming in close second. It is estimated that by 2050, one in three people in the U.S. will speak Spanish. The way the data is trending, it is crucial that the healthcare system adapts to serve the various communities within our country.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people of Hispanic/Latino/Latinx origin make up 22.3% of Colorado’s population. With almost a quarter of Colorado’s entire population speaking Spanish, representation matters now more than ever. Providing health information in multiple languages is important for many reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, is the fact that readily accessible translations in scientific settings produce greater understanding of the material. Second, providing translated information lays the foundation to create equitable care for communities that have historically been underserved by the healthcare system. With this in mind, our lab created a Spanish version of our website and is undertaking a project to translate surveys that are used in healthcare clinics. We aim to better serve Colorado’s growing Hispanic/Latino/Latinx community and maintain our core value of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Overall, it is important to recognize the diverse nature of our country and continue to think of ways to share material among different communities. We hope to expand our website audience by providing a Spanish option, and plan on taking this a step further by translating clinic questionnaires. As explained above, providing scientific information in multiple languages can increase understanding, help inform healthcare decisions, and thus benefit overall health outcomes. Clearly language holds a critical role in making healthcare more inclusive and advancing the degree of care our systems can provide.