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Cancer. 2009 Jul 15;115(14):3283-92. doi: 10.1002/cncr.24377.

Medical interpreter knowledge of cancer and cancer clinical trials.

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  • 1Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



Cancer patients with limited English proficiency may need specialized assistance to communicate with health professionals about cancer and clinical trials.


Medical interpreters working in several Boston-area hospitals were invited to participate in training sessions about cancer and cancer clinical trials. We did a pre and post survey-based assessment of knowledge of basic concepts in cancer and clinical trials, and post assessment of satisfaction, among 97 interpreters in cancer training and education sessions and 79 participants in clinical trial training and education sessions.


Participants had a range of prior experience with interpretation in the context of cancer and clinical trials. Training increased mean accuracy from 49% to 72% in knowledge items about cancer, and from 72% to 78% in knowledge about clinical trials. Interpreters reported several areas of concern with respect to standards of practice.


Pretest surveys of medical interpreters revealed several areas of important knowledge gaps about cancer and clinical trials. Posttest assessment showed that training can be useful to improving short-term accuracy, but that more work is needed to develop curricula and testing measures to address these knowledge gaps.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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