Patient Education Materials Available in Foreign Languages
Here in the United States, it seems that companies like Krames and Pritchett and Hull translate only their top-selling titles, and then only into Spanish. It's a business decision for them, but it leaves patient educators in a bind. Los Angeles and New York City might be America's famous multicultural "melting pots," but the truth is -- thousands of communities have populations whose needs are not met by handouts written in English. The good news: the Web has made it possible to access patient ed information in other languages.
There are two types of Foreign Language Patient Education Sites: a) Those with online content in other languages, and b) Those with downloadable content on other languages.
Since the focus of this site is materials that can be given out, this page identifies sites with either downloadable handouts, or, at a minimum, information on where to order handouts in other languages. Simply having content in another language was not enough to make it onto this list.
(A special thanks to Liu Lily, Sherrie Klein Smith, and Angela Spencer for their suggestions.)
English-Language Sites Offering Handouts in Spanish
The National Institute of Health's List of Downloadable Patient Education Handouts
An amazing selection, though only a small portion are available in Spanish. Nevertheless, it's likely that many of you will be able to reduce your patient education expenditures by utilizing this remarkable resource. Although not all files are labeled as reproducible, Betty Riley, of the NIHINFO Team, has advised that "All our information is free and in the public domain and we encourage visitors to reproduce our information." For hints on customizing this information (adjusting reading level, adding illustrations, etc.) visit some of the other links off of the U-Write home page.
Oregon Health Sciences University/Hood River Community Health Outreach Project
Access the downloadable brochures listed below at this link.
  • How to prevent cavities in small children
  • The DPTaP Shot (Triple)/La Vacuna de DPTaP (La Triple)

  • Hepatitis-B Shot/La Vacuna de Hepatitis-B

  • MMR Shot/La Vacuna de MMR

  • The Smallpox Shot/La Vacuna contra La Viruela
  • Premature Labor/El Parto Prematuro
  • Is your home poison proof?

  • Mr. Yuk says, "Stay away from me!"

  • Mr. Yuk wants to find a happy, healthy you

  • Draw a line from the poison to Mr. Yuk

  • Never take drugs that belong to someone else

  • Color the things that are dangerous for you
Low Literacy Brochures from the U.S. Food and Drug Agency
The following easy-to-read brochures can be viewed in HTML or in PDF format, at this link.
  • Clinical Trials of Medical Treatments: Why Volunteer?

  • How to Protect Yourself from AIDS

  • Protect Your Child from Poisons in Your Home

  • The Truth About Choosing Medical Treatments (also available in Spanish)

  • Eating for a Healthy Heart (also available in Spanish)

  • Help Your Arthritis Treatment Work (also available in Spanish)

  • Losing Weight Safely

  • What to Do for Colds and Flu

  • Safer Sunning in Seven Steps (also available in Spanish)

  • Eating Well as We Age

  • Keep Your Food Safe (also available in Spanish)

  • Use Medicine Safely

  • Help for Menopause
National Center for Farmworker Health
This link accesses ten nicely-illustrated bilingual downloads, designed for photocopying.
  • Teens Can Say No To Sex

  • Planning Your Family

  • Rules for Healthy Eating

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Skin Emergencies

  • Work Injuries

  • Alcohol and Children

  • What is Diabetes

  • Care of Teeth

  • Tips to Reduce Stress
English-Language Sites Offering Handouts in Multiple Languages (including Spanish)
New South Wales (Australia) Multicultural Health Communication Services
This site offers 33 categories of patient education information, including a mix of diseases, conditions and tests. Available languages vary by topic, but include Chinese, Italian, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Polish, Croatian, Macedonian, Maltese, and Portuguese. Select a topic, and the site responds with the date of the piece, the author, and the languages available. Handouts are downloadable as PDFs.
British Columbia HealthGuide
This rich site, funded by British Columbia Ministry of Health, and others, offers a wide selection of topics, searchable by topic or language. . Available languages include Chinese, Farsi, French, Italian, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Adding to the value: a "quality rating," indicating whether the translation was proofed by a professional translator, reviewed by a health care provider, etc. There are also some Farsi videos available on abdominal pain, bike injury, nursing mother, and flu prevention. Note: a spot check suggested that brochure downloads were text-only...
Georgia State University's Nutrition Education for Americans
Nutrition is the theme here, and GSU does a fine job reaching out for underserved populations. Food pyramids and four similarly-themed handouts are available in 37 languages. These handouts are downloadable, or photocopy masters, printed on heavy-duty stock, can be ordered, for $2.00 per language.
Immunization Action Coalition's "Vaccine Information Statements"
From Farsi to French, the Immunization Action Coalition offers downloadable patient education handouts in 23 languages. Topics include Chickenpox, Hep A, Hep B, Polio, etc. A spot-check (Hep A in Croatian) resulted in a nicely laid-out PDF that would make an attractive handout.
The FDA's "My Medicines" brochure
This Web page hosts a single brochure designed to encourage patients to ask about the medications they're taking. The brochure is offered in Cambodian, Chinese, English, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Polish, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.
This Web site's purpose is to encourage safer, more effective medicine use through better communication. A single handout -- the 16-page Prescriptions and You -- can be ordered in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, or Cambodian, for $20 per 50 copies.
The Center for MultiCultural Health
Utah's Center for MultiCultural Health website offers an impressive selection of languages, including Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Laotian, Russian, Samoan, and Spanish.
The University of Washington's EthnoMed offers cultural information, plus a short (and eclectic!) selection of patient education topics in a short (and eclectic!) selection of languages. Visit this site for Diaper Rash in Cambodian, or TB in Oromiffa. A spot check (TB in Oromiffa) produced a professionally laid out bilingual 3-page PDF.
A final thought: one of the great resources on the Web is the CAPHIS listserv. CAPHIS is an organization of medical librarians who help each other every day via an online discussion. Need a little help finding a patient education resource: sign up for the daily dialog by sending an email to Leave the subject line blank, but in the body type:
subscribe CAPHIS first name last name
Unsubscribing's just as easy, so give it a try!
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