Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Heide Castañeda, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Dinorah Martinez Tyson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Lende, Ph.D.


Immigrant, Health, Equity, Access


This cross-sectional, comparative, qualitative study explored language-related issues experienced by low-income Spanish-speaking mothers navigating pediatric care for their children in Hillsborough County, Florida. Hospitals, pediatric clinics, specialists, and dental care have differing degrees of linguistic accessibility and accommodations for limited English proficient families. Two groups of mothers were interviewed: bilingual (n=9) and Spanish-speaking limited-English proficient (SSLEP) mothers (n=21). These groups perceived the effect of language on navigating pediatric healthcare differently, creating tension in perceptions and experience between them. Such tensions included SSLEP mothers expressing satisfaction with pediatric care simultaneously with shortcomings in communication. SSLEP mothers said that everything was easy, at the same time stating that navigating healthcare, and other aspects of their family life would be far easier if they spoke English. SSLEP expressions of self-sufficiency were countered by bilingual mothers who provided language support to SSLEP family members, friends, and strangers. This research points toward the need for consistent language services in healthcare settings as well as facilitation of effective English language acquisition opportunities for families.