Exploring Language Barriers to Evidence-based Health Care (EBHC) in Post-graduate Medical Students: A Randomised Trial

Background: Understanding the written English language might be a barrier when teaching Evidence-based Health Care (EBHC) to Spanish-speaking physicians. Aim: To quantify the magnitude of this potential barrier. Method: Cochrane Review abstracts in English or in Spanish were randomly distributed among first-year residents at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica of Chile. Residents answered investigator-designed questionnaires to measure their comprehension while the time needed to complete the task was recorded. Results: Groups were similar at baseline. Mean score for those reading in Spanish was 11.9 ± 2.8 (range 5 to 18) compared to 10.5 ± 3.8 (range 1 to 17) for those reading in English (p=0.04). Low scores (£ 9) were twice as frequent for the English group than for the Spanish group (16.7% vs 34.7%; p=0.042). The time to complete the task was also longer for the group reading in English. Conclusion: Language should be taken into account when teaching EBHC to Spanish-speaking physicians.
Language barriers, Postgraduate medical students, Evidence-based health care, Randomized trial