Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

LaVonne Fox


Communication Barriers; Occupational Therapy -- methods


Problem: "Many hospital administrators and clinicians are not aware there are laws and regulations that support the provision of language access service, both for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and those with limited English proficiency" (Wilson-Stronks, 2010, p. 14). "It is estimated that about 20 million people (one in 15) in the United States speak and understand little or no English" (U.S. News & World Report, 2007, ~4).The language inconsistency within the healthcare system is hindering the care given to these clients. According to Jay Feldstein, corporate chief medical officer for the Ameri1Health Mercy Family of Companies, "Low health literacy is a problem that leads to poor medical outcomes for millions of Americans and costs the healthcare industry an estimated $60 billion a year" (AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies, 2009, ~1). In some cases, the occupational therapists themselves are barriers by not taking the necessary steps to gain a better understanding of who the client is and accommodating to individualized communication needs.

Methods: An extensive literature review on the population affected by communication barriers within the healthcare system was conducted. The literature revealed the need for more effective methods of communicating in order for healthcare professionals to provide more efficient care for their clients. As the literature review progressed, it became apparent that because there were so many forms of communication barriers not all of them would be included within the realm of this project. The authors decided to address the areas of health literacy, language, visual, auditory, and cognitive barriers.

Conclusions: The purpose of the scholarly project and resulting article, Communication Barriers -Are You One of Them?, was to increase occupational therapists' awareness of the impact of communication barriers within the healthcare system and provide them with strategies and resources to overcome these barriers. The article is written for the adult learner utilizing Malcolm Knowles' Adult Learning Theory of Andragogy. It is hoped that this article contributes to improving the effectiveness of the healthcare professional's communication methods to provide a higher quality of care for each client. There are many communication barriers within the healthcare system that need to be addressed. Occupational therapists have the skills necessary to address and overcome these barriers; however, additional awareness and knowledge of available resources will enhance their ability to utilize these skills. Communication Barriers - Are You One of Them? is a tool that occupational therapists can use to increase their awareness of communication barriers and broaden their knowledge base on how to overcome them with the resources provided.