McClellan SR, Snowden L., Psychiatr Serv. 2014 Sep 15. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300522. [Epub ahead of print], 2014 Sep 15
Objective: This study examined the association between language access programming and quality of psychiatric care received by persons with limited English proficiency (LEP).
Methods: In 1999, the California Department of Mental Health required county Medicaid agencies to implement a "threshold language access policy" to meet the state's Title VI obligations. This policy required Medi-Cal agencies to provide language access programming, including access to interpreters and translated written material, to speakers of languages other than English if the language was spoken by at least 3,000, or 5%, of the county's Medicaid population. Using a longitudinal study design with a nonequivalent control group, this study examined the quality of care provided to Spanish speakers with LEP and a severe mental illness before and after implementation of mandatory language access programming. Quality was measured by receipt of at least two follow-up medication visits within 90 days or three visits within 180 days of an initial medication visit over a period of 38 quarter-years.
Results: On average, only 40% of Spanish-speaking clients received at least three medication follow-up visits within 180 days. In multivariate analyses, language access programming was not associated with receipt of at least two medication follow-up visits within 90 days or at least three visits within 180 days.
Conclusions: This study found no evidence that language access programming led to increased rates of follow-up medication visits for clients with LEP.