Speaking in tongues: bilingualism and public health service advocacy
Using Hofstede’s cultural values of collectivism, individualism and power distance, this research investigates an individual’s compliance to the healthcare scenario they are presented with. Research has shown that a bilingual’s values are triggered through the use of one of their languages. Chinese/English and Spanish/English bilingual individuals from Singapore and the United States respectively, are recruited using an online panel to gauge their compliance to healthcare initiatives. This empirical research uses data from online panel responses from individuals who are female and aged 18-60. ANOVA was used to ascertain differences in the key variables, following this, differences in compliance were sought by repeated t-tests. Repeated t-tests yielded significant differences between cultural groups in collectivism, individualism and high power distance. The statistically significant results across these values show that aligning language and cultural values increases the persuasiveness, in the case of this research increased the respondents’ compliance to the healthcare scenarios. This research could be slightly limited through the use of a quasi-experiment because it eliminates the use of a control condition, however participants were randomly assigned to the scenarios pertaining to their bilingual languages. This research reveals important implications for healthcare, including communicating with and to patients from the perspective of not only the Government but also the Ministry of Health and healthcare professionals. This research has opened many avenues of future research, in terms of communication with different cultural entities, not only within the health sector, but across Government initiatives and even marketing and advertising communications. To develop a clearer picture of bilingualism this research should extend into different countries and continents.