TITLE: Diversity Rx (website)

ACCESS: http://www.DiversityRx.org/

To get a handle on Diversity Rx, keep in mind language, culture, and healthcare. Diversity Rx is a clearinghouse of information on how to meet the linguistic and cultural needs of minorities, immigrants, and refugees seeking healthcare. It is thus a prescription ("Rx") for diverse populations. Again and again, the site editors, who are interpreters, advocates, researchers, and consultants in the field of multicultural health, stress language and culture as they relate to healthcare delivery.

In regard to language, the site is a gold mine of information on the emerging profession of medical interpretation. The Glossary does everything right, as when it distinguishes between interpretation, which is always oral, and translation, which is always written, or when it introduces us to interesting terms such as "encounter," which is defined as a communication event, such as may occur in a healthcare setting, in which the services of an interpreter are required. The Bilingual Interpreter Services section gives an example of a model medical interpretation service in its profile of the Community Health Services Program of Seattle, Washington. Interpreter Practices goes beyond directory information to give the codes of ethics of major medical interpretation societies such as the American Medical Interpreters Translators Association and the Massachusetts Medical Interpreters Association. But the best section of all is the Overview, written by Sherry Riddick, which makes excellent points, such as how hiring bilingual staff is the most efficient approach to dealing with language barriers, how self-assessment of fluency is "inadequate," and how strategies to break down language barriers might include retraining foreigners, bringing in traditional healers such as medicinemen and herbalists, and encouraging students of the health professions to study a foreign language. Ms. Riddick's Overview (of the Models and Practices section) is the highlight of the site in my opinion.

Librarians will find Diversity Rx closer in usefulness to a monograph than a reference work. Like a print monograph, the site is rich in information; but it does not lend itself easily to answering reference questions, since (as of December 1998) there is no FAQ and no engine to search the site by keyword. A suggestion for the future might be the addition of a glossary of culture-bound syndromes (patterns of nonnormative behavior whose unique symptoms and progression tend to be specific to a particular geographic, ethnic, or cultural group). Until then, information relevant to transcultural medicine and nursing may be found using the Hot Links to other sites, specifically EthnoMed (http://www.hslib.washington.edu/clinical/ethnomed/index.html) at the University of Washington and the Transcultural and Multicultural Health Links page (http://www.lib.iun.indiana.edu/trannurs.htm) at Indiana University.

Penelope Papangelis
Health Sciences Librarian
Western Kentucky University


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