The association between language proficiency and outcomes of elderly patients with asthma

Juan P. Wisnivesky*, Katherine Krauskopf, Michael S. Wolf, Elizabeth A.H. Wilson, Anastasia Sofianou, Melissa Martynenko, Ethan A. Halm, Howard Leventhal, Alex D. Federman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Asthma is a growing cause of morbidity for elderly Americans and is highly prevalent among Hispanic people in the United States. The inability to speak English poses a barrier to patientprovider communication. To evaluate associations between limited English proficiency, asthma self-management, and outcomes in elderly Hispanic patients. Elderly patients with asthma receiving primary care at clinics in New York City and Chicago were studied. Of 268 patients in the study, 68% were non-Hispanic, 18% English-proficient Hispanic, and 14% Hispanic with limited English proficiency. Unadjusted analyses showed that Hispanic persons with limited English proficiency had worse asthma control (P = .0007), increased likelihood of inpatient visits (P = .002), and poorer quality of life (P < .0001). We also found significant associations between limited English proficiency and poorer medication adherence (P = .006). Similar results were obtained in multiple regression analyses adjusting for demographics, asthma history, comorbidities, depression, and health literacy. Limited English proficiency was associated with poorer self-management and worse outcomes among elderly patients with asthma. Further understanding of mechanisms underlying this relationship is necessary to develop interventions that improve asthma outcomes in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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