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Miscommunication Between Doctors and Patients

For millions of recent immigrants, a U.S. residency permit offers real hope for a better life. But attaining the American dream isn’t easy. Well-paying jobs are scarce. Educational opportunities are limited. Linguistic and cultural hurdles can restrict important social interactions. Health problems often go undiagnosed and untreated.

This last stumbling block to success—one that immigrants share with many disabled native-born Americans—is of particular concern to researchers such as MU’s Diane Smith, a professor of occupational therapy and occupational science.

Educators and health-care providers, she says, have mostly done a poor job boosting “health literacy,” a phrase denoting, in part, a person’s ability to read, understand and act appropriately on advice from health professionals.