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Impact of patient–family physician language concordance on healthcare utilisation and mortality: a retrospective cohort study of home care recipients in Ontario, Canada


Introduction — As the world’s linguistic diversity continues to increase at an unprecedented rate, a growing proportion of patients will be at risk of experiencing language barriers in primary care settings. We sought to examine whether patient–family physician language concordance in a primary care setting is associated with lower rates of hospital-based healthcare utilisation and mortality.

Methods — We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study of 497 227 home care recipients living in Ontario, Canada. Patient language was obtained from home care assessments while physician language was obtained from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. We defined primary care as language concordant when patients and their rostered family physicians shared a mutually intelligible language, and we defined all other primary care as language discordant. The primary
outcomes were Emergency Department (ED) visits, hospitalisations and death within 1 year of index home
care assessment.

Results — Compared with non-English, non-French speakers who received language-discordant primary care, those who received language-concordant primary care experienced fewer ED visits (53.1% vs 57.5%; p<0.01), fewer hospitalisations (35.0% vs 37.6%; p<0.01) and less mortality (14.4% vs 16.6%; p<0.01) during the study period. In multivariable regression analyses, non-English, non-French speakers had lower risks of ED visits (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 0.91, 95% CI 0.88 to 0.94), hospitalisations (aHR 0.94, 95% CI 0.90 to 0.98) and death (aHR 0.87, 95% CI 0.82 to 0.93) when they received language-concordant primary care. For francophones, the risk of experiencing an ED visit, a hospitalisation or death was not impacted by the language of their family physician.

Conclusions — Patient–family physician language concordance is associated with a lower risk of adverse outcomes in non-English and non-French speakers. Optimising the delivery of language-concordant care could potentially result in significant decreases in the use of acute healthcare services and mortality at the population level.



Reaume M, Batista R, Sucha E, Pugliese M, Roberts R, Rhodes E, Seale E, Kendall CE, Bjerre L, Bouchard L, Johnston S, Sood MM, Prud’homme D, Manuel D, Tanuseputro P. 2024; 0:e000762. Epub 2024 Jun 24.

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