65% of medical and nursing staff use Catalan regularly with patients. Regardless of the initial language, 73% adapt to the patient’s language. This is revealed by the preliminary results of the ULAS study (Linguistic Uses in Health Care) carried out by the Catalan Society of the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Medicine (SocDEMCAT) and the Dr. Antoni Esteve, with the collaboration of the General Directorate of Language Policy and the Department of Health of the Generalitat de Catalunya with other collaborating institutions.
It should be borne in mind that 23.4% of young professionals are from outside Catalonia. The ULAS study, based on an Internet survey, evaluates the language use of 1,838 health professionals from 67 hospitals and 501 public CAPs distributed throughout Catalonia. Fieldwork began in January 2020 and as a result of the pandemic caused by Covid-19 it stopped in late March. At the end of this year, it is planned to close the study when the 3,000 surveys are reached, which will complete the information with data from the big hospitals in Barcelona.
The preliminary results of this research will be announced tomorrow, Saturday 15 May, electronically at the 39th Vallès Health Conference (Branch of the Vallès Occidental, Academy of Medical Sciences and Health of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands), by the hand of the Dr. Oriol Ramis on behalf of SocDEMCAT.
The youngest, especially doctors (in contrast to nursing staff and others) and those who work in hospitals (compared to those who work in the CAPs) as well as those born outside Catalonia are the professionals of the health who use Spanish more as a language of greeting. Young people and those who work in hospitals are also the ones who are best suited to the patient’s language. In the work meetings, the respondents state that they use Catalan more or only or mostly (83%), the younger ones use it 68%.
Regarding written Catalan, 70% of the professionals surveyed write in Catalan both the medical history (n = 1,283) and the reports and other documents (n = 1,294). 58% of young people write in Catalan in their medical history and 69% of young people born in Catalonia do so. Doctors and those who work in hospitals also use Catalan less in their medical history as well as in other documents and in work emails.
76% of healthcare professionals consider that they have sufficient support tools to speak and write in Catalan, although they also require more training: 49% in general Catalan and 43% in medical Catalan. The distribution by age indicates that young people demand more general Catalan, while older people, medical Catalan.
All these data come from the provisional results of the ULAS study. When completed, a qualitative analysis will be carried out that will try to interpret the reasons for language behaviors and their evolution in the health field. The aim of the study is to propose improvement initiatives to involve more institutions that want to offer more tools, resources and training in Catalan for health professionals.