Improving Dermatology Outcomes for Spanish-Speaking Patients

More than 16 million Spanish speakers in the United States have limited English proficiency, leading to disparities in dermatologic healthcare. Hispanic patients experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality from skin diseases, coupled with lower utilization of dermatology services. To address this, increasing Spanish-language resources in dermatology is crucial, including access to Spanish-speaking physicians, interpretation services, and patient education materials1.

The current lack of diversity in the dermatology workforce exacerbates the issue, with only 4.3% of dermatologists identifying as Hispanic, while the Hispanic population makes up 18.1% of the US population. Promoting physician diversity, particularly by recruiting more Hispanic and Spanish-speaking trainees in dermatology residency programs, can enhance language-concordant care2.

Live interpretation services, preferred by both patients and staff, are also underutilized in dermatology clinics, hindering effective communication. At a pediatric dermatology clinic, live interpretation was the preferred method chosen by 90.5% of families (over phone or video interpretation services)3. Allocating more funding to live interpreters, especially in areas with large Spanish-speaking populations, is imperative.

Written communication is another challenge, as numerous dermatology programs lack Spanish-language patient education materials and consent forms1. Only a few dermatologic conditions on the AAD’s website have Spanish versions4. Decreased health literacy is associated with worse health outcomes5. Providing patients with comprehensive education materials is a crucial strategy to enhance health literacy, enabling them to better understand their skin conditions and the corresponding treatment plans. This leads to improved communication between physicians and patients and enhanced adherence to prescribed medications.

In summary, reducing language barriers in dermatology requires multifaceted efforts, including promoting diversity, investing in live interpretation services, and expanding Spanish-language materials. Further research is needed to advance health equity for Hispanic patients.


  1. Islam, Nabiha et al. “Cross-sectional evaluation of Spanish-language care at academic dermatology clinics.” International journal of dermatology vol. 62,8 (2023): e450-e452. doi:10.1111/ijd.16514
  2. Gallo Marin, Benjamin et al. “Strategies for augmenting the Spanish-speaking dermatology workforce of the United States.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology vol. 87,5 (2022): e159-e160. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2022.05.061
  3. Blundell, Andrew R et al. “Language-centered approach to care improvement in a pediatric dermatology clinic.” Pediatric dermatology vol. 38 Suppl 2 (2021): 161-163. doi:10.1111/pde.14635
  4. Gorrepati, Pavane L, and Gideon P Smith. “Contrasting readability and availability of Spanish language with English language patient education materials.” Pediatric dermatology vol. 38 Suppl 2 (2021): 142-143. doi:10.1111/pde.14485
  5. Mazmudar, Rishabh S et al. “Readability of online Spanish patient education materials in dermatology.” Archives of dermatological research vol. 313,3 (2021): 201-204. doi:10.1007/s00403-020-02036-7

Subscribe to VisualDx Today

Become a VisualDx subscriber today and gain access to clinical information and medical images of thousands of diagnoses. Your first 7 days are FREE.

Learn More

Related Posts