Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

John Green

Relational Format



Language barriers can impede access to healthcare and compromise quality of care for limited English proficiency (LEP) patients. Although a rights-based framework would suggest and federal mandates require healthcare facilities to provide language access services, multiple factors result in the persistence of language barriers in healthcare. As the literature review shows, these factors include limitations in policy, enforcement, standardization, resources, and ability to recruit and retain professional interpreters. This thesis uses a multi-method case study entailing Mississippi in general and information from two specific sites, a rural Delta county and an urban central county, to assess the issue of language barriers in healthcare across various facilities in the state. Through sociodemographic analysis, eight qualitative key-informant telephone interviews, critical review of providers’ websites, and a personal visit to healthcare facilities in the Delta region, the findings suggest a heightened need for interpreter services but challenges in their quality, accessibility, and availability. Trends such as net-out migration and closure of rural hospitals in addition to limitations in resources, professional training, and enforcement result in challenges that have reduced access to healthcare for LEP patients, especially in medically underserved areas like rural counties in Mississippi. This thesis seeks to addresses the issue of language barriers in healthcare in Mississippi and offer future recommendations.

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