Using an iPad for Basic Communication Between Spanish-Speaking Families and Nurses in Pediatric Acute Care: A Feasibility Pilot Study

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Abstract

The growing number of Spanish speakers in the United States poses communication challenges for healthcare providers. Language barriers in pediatric acute care have been associated with an increased risk for adverse events, longer hospital stays, and decreased quality of care. In addition, clinicians’ usage of interpreter services is inconsistent. In fact, nurses often lack interpreter support during daily bedside care. Nursing staff at a pediatric children’s hospital in the southeastern United States identified bedside communication with Spanish-speaking patients and families as a clinical challenge. To address this challenge, a basic communication interface, UTalk version 1.0 (the author is the owner and proprietor), supported by an Apple iPad, was developed by the researcher with input from nursing staff, a certified medical interpreter, and Spanish-speaking community members. A feasibility pilot study of the interface’s usability and engagement was conducted on the hospital’s pediatric medical-surgical unit through qualitative interviews with nurse-family dyads. Three themes emerged from the data: UTalk-facilitated communication, UTalk needs improvement, and interpreter miscommunication. These findings indicate that a mobile digital device interface is a feasible method for augmenting bedside communication with Spanish-speaking patients and families. These results also may serve as a reference for the development of similar mobile device interfaces. Further research with a larger sample size is needed.

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