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Arabic-speaking migrants' attitudes, opinions, preferences and past experiences concerning the use of interpreters in healthcare: a postal cross-sectional survey
Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden .
Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden .
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Division of Health, Activity and Care. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2014 (English)In: BMC Research Notes, ISSN 1756-0500, E-ISSN 1756-0500, Vol. 7, no 71Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Good communication is an important prerequisite for equal treatment in a healthcare encounter. One way to overcome language barriers when patients and healthcare staff do not share the same language is to use a professional interpreter. Few previous studies have been found investigating the use of interpreters, and just one previous study from the perspective of European migrants, which showed that they perceived interpreters as a communication aid and a guide in the healthcare system as regards information and practical matters. No previous study has gathered quantitative information to focus on non-European migrants' attitudes to the use of interpreters in healthcare encounters. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate Arabic-speaking individuals' attitudes, opinions, preferences and past experiences concerning the use of interpreters in healthcare in order to: (i) understand how persons' expectations and concerns regarding interpreters may vary, both within and across cultural/linguistic populations; (ii) understand the consequences of diverse opinions/expectations for planning responsive services; and (iii) confirm findings from previous qualitative studies.

METHOD: A postal cross-sectional study using a structured self-administered 51-item questionnaire was used to describe and document aspects of Arabic-speaking individuals' attitudes to the use of interpreters in healthcare. The sample of 53 Arabic-speaking migrants was recruited from three different places. Participants were mostly born in Iraq and had a high level of education and were almost equally divided between genders. Data were analysed with descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: The main findings were that most of the participants perceived the interpreter's role as being a communication aid and a practical aid, interpreting literally and objectively. Trust in the professional interpreter was related to qualification as an interpreter and personal contact with face-to-face interaction. The qualities of the desired professional interpreter were: a good knowledge of languages and medical terminology, translation ability, and sharing the same origin, dialect and gender as the patient.

CONCLUSION: This study confirmed previous qualitative findings from European migrant groups with a different cultural and linguistic background. The study supports the importance of planning a good interpretation situation in accordance with individuals' desire, irrespective of the migrant's linguistic and cultural background, and using interpreters who interpret literally and objectively, who are highly trained with language skills in medical terminology, and with a professional attitude to promote communication, thus increasing cost-effective, high-quality individualized healthcare.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central, 2014. Vol. 7, no 71
Keyword [en]
Arabic-speaking migrants; Communication; Cross-sectional survey; Healthcare encounter; Structured self-administered questionnaire; Use of interpreters
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-107684DOI: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-71PubMedID: 24484628OAI: diva2:726539
Available from: 2014-06-18 Created: 2014-06-18 Last updated: 2016-01-19Bibliographically approved

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