Volume 47 | Number 1pt2 | February 2012

Abstract List

Lisa C. Diamond M.D., M.P.H., Harold S. Luft, Sukyung Chung Ph.D., Elizabeth A. Jacobs


To describe the initial impact of an organizational policy change on measurement of physician non‐nglish language proficiency.

Study Setting

Multispecialty health care organization in the an rancisco ay rea.

Study Design/Data Collection

In response to preliminary findings suggesting that the organization's nonvalidated and undefined three‐category tool for physician self‐report of non‐nglish language proficiency levels was likely inadequate, the organization asked physicians to rate their non‐nglish language proficiency levels using an adapted nteragency anguage oundtable () scale, a validated measure with five rating levels and descriptors. We then compared the self‐reported language proficiency on the original scale and the for those physicians who completed both and used regression analysis to investigate physician characteristics potentially associated with a change in score on the old versus scales.

Principal Findings

Six months after the scale was implemented throughout the organization, 75 percent (258/342) of physicians had updated their language proficiency ratings. Among clinicians who had previously rated themselves in the “edical/onversational” category, there were substantial variations in scores using the scale. Physicians who spoke two or more non‐nglish languages were significantly more likely to lower their self‐reported proficiency when updating from the old scale to the scale.


The organization was willing to adopt a relatively straightforward change in how data were collected and presented to patients based on the face validity of initial findings. This organizational policy change appeared to improve how self‐reported physician language proficiency was characterized.