Jennifer Needle and Elaine Hsieh headshots

Reimagining Language Equity

Jennifer Needle, MD, MPH, HEC-C, and Elaine Hsieh, PhD, JDwere awarded the Masonic Cross-Departmental Grant for their two-year project: “Reimagining Language Equity: Defining Best Practices in Partnering with Informal Interpreters of Somali Families in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.” 

Despite this regulation, significant multi-level barriers to accessing quality medical interpreters exist. Lack of availability of professional medical interpreters can result in LOE individuals utilizing informal interpreters (bilingual family members or friends) that influence communication and interactions. Additionally, no guidance exists for providers that specifically addresses when and how to engage with informal interpreters in a clinical setting. This study will develop data-driven practice guidance that will facilitate improved informed decision-making for LOE patients through triangulation of naturalistic recordings, interviews, and focus groups with Somali parents of infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, informal interpreters, and healthcare providers. This study has the potential to identify interventions and practices that reduce language inequities and mitigate factors that create pediatric health disparities.

Proposals were  judged on innovation, quality of the research approach, significance to children’s health, synergy of the research team, interdisciplinarity, justification for the request and the potential for future external funding to sustain or further develop the program.