A study was done at Northwestern University to research why Spanish-speaking Latinas were less likely to receive an epidural during birth.Furthermore, the number of Spanish-speaking Latinas who did not receive epidurals was even higher than English-speaking Latinas. This has led the researchers to conclude that the reason is in part due to language barriers, or a lack of providing a translation into Spanish of the pain management options available to women during labor.
Research on Pain Management for Latinas in Labor
Northwestern University began their research on the epidural management differences between Latinas and English-speaking women by researching the other factors that would influence a woman in her decision to accept an epidural. The factors included medical insurance, age, marital status, and income. The point of the research was to discern whether or not Hispanic women were not receiving epidurals because of language disparities or because of another reason. Once both sample pools were tested and other factors were ruled out, it was found that 66% of the time, Hispanic women received an epidural during labor, and 81% of the time, English-speaking women received an epidural. To narrow the research down even further in order to determine if the percentage gap was caused by a lack of Spanish to English translator services or not, researchers divided the group of Latinas into Spanish-speaking Hispanic women and English-speaking Hispanic women. Compared to the English-speaking Hispanic women, Spanish-speaking Hispanic women had a 40% less chance of receiving an epidural.
Over 50% of women choose to have an epidural during labor to help manage the pain, and it remains one of the most common forms of pain management during birth today. The research was conducted by Northwestern University in order to figure out if Hispanic women were choosing not to have an epidural, or if it was the language barrier that was preventing them from obtaining an epidural during labor. The research revealed that Latinas, especially Spanish-speaking Hispanic women, are not receiving the translation services they need during birth, or they are not being properly informed of their pain management options
If language barriers are making it so that Latina women are less likely to receive an epidural to help them manage the pain of birth, then either hospitals need to make an effort to provide professional translation during birth or need to have written materials in Spanish informing women of their options during labor. The research is being used to generate information to various hospitals.