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Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2013 Mar;11(1):69-76. doi: 10.1111/1744-1609.12005.

Working with interpreters: practical advice for use of an interpreter in healthcare.

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School of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University, Vaxjo, Sweden.


The aim of this descriptive commentary is to improve communication in healthcare when an interpreter is used by providing practical advice to healthcare staff when they consider using interpreters. This descriptive commentary considered the issues of preparation and implementation of interpretation sessions to reveal the complexities and dilemmas of an effective healthcare encounter with interpreters. Using the design of a discursive paper, this article seeks to explore and position of what is published in the literature on the topic studied and on the basis of previous studies to provide practical advice on the use of interpreters. The descriptive commentary showed that the interpreter should be used not only as a communication aid but also as a practical and informative guide in the healthcare system. In preparing the interpretation session, it is important to consider the type (trained professional interpreter, family member or bilingual healthcare staff as interpreters) and mode (face to face and telephone) of interpreting. Furthermore, it is important to consider the interpreter's ethnic origin, religious background, gender, language or dialect, social group, clothes, appearance and attitude. During the healthcare encounter, the interpreter should follow the recommendations given in guidelines for interpreters. Healthcare staff should choose an appropriate room and be aware of their own behaviour, appearance and attitude during the healthcare encounter. Good planning is needed, with carefully considered choices concerning the right kind of interpreter, mode of interpretation and individual preferences for the interpretation in order to deliver high-quality and cost-effective healthcare. Depending on the nature of the healthcare encounter, healthcare staff need to plan interpreting carefully and in accordance with the individuals' desires and choose the type of interpreter and mode of interpreting that best suits the need in the actual healthcare situation in order to deliver high-quality healthcare.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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