Barriers and facilitators to using 9-1-1 and emergency medical services in a limited English proficiency Chinese community

Brandon N. Ong, Mei Po Yip, Sherry Feng, Rebecca Calhoun, Hendrika W. Meischke, Shin-Ping Tu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Effective communication during a medical emergency is crucial for an appropriate emergency medical services (EMS) response. This exploratory qualitative study explored intentions to use 9-1-1 in a Chinese speaking community and the barriers and facilitators to accessing EMS. Focus groups with Chinese adults who self-reported limited English proficiency were conducted. An inductive iterative approach was used to categorize and connect themes identified in the discussions. Language difficulties, negative perceptions of EMS, perceived costs of using emergency services, and no previous experience with 9-1-1 were commonly described as barriers to calling EMS during emergencies. Positive past experiences with EMS and encountering an emergency situation perceived as too great to manage alone are common facilitators for calling 9-1-1. Further exploration is necessary to assess barriers to calling 9-1-1 unique to specific communities, test findings, and tailor interventions to improve EMS communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • EMS
  • English proficiency
  • Immigrants
  • Language proficiency
  • Underserved populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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