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Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2012 Sep;71(9):249-52.

Perspectives of Chuukese patients and their health care providers on the use of different sources of interpreters.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Hawai'i John A Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, HI, USA.



Immigrants from Chuuk, a Pacific Island nation in Micronesia, are a growing population of limited-English speakers in Hawai'i. The purpose of this study was to examine the perspectives of Chuukese patients and their physicians in Honolulu, Hawai'i on interpreter services.


An anonymous multiple choice survey was distributed to potential patients through a Chuukese community group and to physicians through the Hawai'i Residency Programs to examine the following sources of interpreters: Family member or friend, telephone interpreter, or professional in-person interpreter. Statistical significance of cross-tabulated responses was analyzed using Fisher's exact test.


114 surveys from health care providers and 95 surveys from Chuukese community members were analyzed after exclusion criteria. Using a family member or friend was the method most frequently used by physicians (78%) and Chuukese patients (71%). Telephone interpreters were used the least by physicians (6%) and Chuukese patients (2%) and both rated it poorly in terms of comfort and ease of use. Physicians rated professional in-person interpreters as the best method (67%) while Chuukese patients rated using a family member or friend as the best method (61%), especially among those who reported a lower English proficiency (P = .04) and who lived in Hawai'i for fewer years (P > .01).


The preference of Chuukese patients for using a family member or friend as interpreter differs from national standards which promote the use of a professional interpreter. Given the preference of both physicians and Chuukese patients for in-person interpreters over telephone interpreters, there is a need for increased training and hiring of in-person interpreters.


Chuukese; Micronesian; cross cultural care; language barrier; medical interpreters; professional interpreter; telephone interpreter; translator

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