Language matters: Race, trust, and outcomes in the pediatric emergency department

Arielle Fields, Manjusha Abraham, John Gaughan, Christopher Haines, K. Sarah Hoehn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Objective: Trust in physicians and health care system has been positively associated with health care outcomes. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationships among race, ethnicity, language, trust, and health care outcomes. Methods: This prospective cross-sectional study took place in the pediatric emergency department of an intercity hospital. English- and Spanishspeaking guardians were asked to complete a demographic survey, the Pediatric Trust in Physicians Scale, and the Group-BasedMedical Mistrust Scale. Results: Four hundred seventy-five parents were surveyed, of which 21.35% identified as white, 35.05% as African American, and 53.26% as Hispanic; with respect to language: 88% English-speaking and 12% Spanish-speaking. No significant difference was seen in trust scores for sex, ethnicity, or religious affiliation. Non-Hispanics and English speakers demonstrated an overall higher trust in their physician. English-speaking participants were found to have higher percentages in all measured emergency department variables compared to Spanish speakers, including admittance (9.09% and 0.93%, respectively) as well as receiving interventions (42.34% and 5.53%, respectively). Conclusions: Our study shows that race and ethnicity influence trust and mistrust as well as actual health care outcomes. Interestingly, language barrier proved to be one of the greatest causes of health care disparities. Therefore, more research is needed to find a way to bridge the increasing language barrier between physicians and patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-226
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Language
  • Race
  • Trust


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