“It depends on the consultation”: Revisiting use of family members as interpreters for general practice consultations – when and why?
Hilder, Jo; Gray, Ben; Macdonald, Lindsay; Tester, Rachel; Dowell, Anthony; Stubbe, Maria
Family members continue to be used as interpreters in medical consultations despite the well-known risks. This paper examines participant perceptions of this practice in three New Zealand clinics chosen for their frequent use of interpreters and their skill in using them. It is based on a detailed study of17 video-recorded interpreted consultations and 48 post-consultation interviews with participants (5 doctors, 16 patients and 12 interpreters, including 6 family members). All participants expressed satisfaction with the communication. Analysis ofthe interviews explored what participants liked or valued about family member interpreters (FMIs). Key themes were the FMIs’ personal relationship and knowledge, patient comfort, trust, cultural norms, time efficiencyandcontinued help outside the consultation. General practitioners (GPs) expressed awareness of potential risks and how to manage them, in contrast to patients and FMIs. Although the use of professional interpreters needs to be strongly promoted, a well-informed decision to use a family member is appropriate in some situations. GPs need to be well trained in how to assess and manage the risks. Rather than striving for ‘best practice’ (i.e. universal use of professional interpreters), it is better to aim for ‘good practice’ where a considered judgement is made about each situation on an individual basis.
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Keywords: Care of Limited English Proficiency Patients; Communication Barriers; Interpreter services; Translating
Research Type: Journal Article