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Youth-Sized Lab Coats: When Children Become Doctors Through Adolescent Healthcare Brokering

Authors
  • Russell, Lindsey
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2019
Source
[email protected]
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Abstract

Child language brokering refers to the practice of children acting as linguistic and cultural mediators in general settings like school, stores, banks and other personal uses. The primary focus of this paper is “adolescent healthcare brokering,” a term coined in 2016 by researchers Jennifer R. Banas, James W. Ball, Lisa C. Wallis and Sarah Gershon, to refer to the use of children as interpreters for family and community members, specifically in the healthcare setting; these cross-lingual communications may occur during regular physician appointments, trips to the emergency department or at specialized visits in fields such as obstetrics or oncology. This paper synthesizes the existing research on child language brokering, with an emphasis on its use and effects within the healthcare system as adolescent healthcare brokering, to observe the phenomenon from a holistic and inclusive approach; it shows why this is occurring, how it is impacting the children involved and what potential solutions could be less detrimental to those involved. The results of many previous studies show that while there are some positive aspects to acting as a broker, the negative impacts are far more severe. Findings reveal that despite laws in some countries established to prevent it, adolescent healthcare brokering is continuing within immigrant communities and is occurring with similar results worldwide. This paper concludes with a discussion of the phenomenon and suggested institutional and political strategies that could be implemented to address the problems of child language and healthcare brokering, informed by the frequent experiences of those studied in preceding research.

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