Improving interpreting in clinical communication: models of feasible practice from the European project ‘Migrant-friendly Hospitals’

Non-local language speakers, especially migrant populations and ethnic minority groups, often cannot communicate with their clinicians adequately to receive necessary information about their care. Members of the clinical staff often do not understand their patients’ needs, and so do not receive allrelevant information from the patient. This paper presents a report from nine European hospitals which worked together to improve communication between non-local language speakers and clinical staff by developing, implementing and evaluating professional interpreter services. The work was part of the Migrant-friendly Hospitals Project. The article outlines different strategies to improve clinical communication with migrant and ethnic minority patients such as telephone interpreting, face-to-face interpreting, intercultural mediation and written material as supportive information and presents an evaluation of their effectiveness from the perspective of the providers and thepatients in the hospitals concerned. This evaluation was based on a benchmarking design that included a pre- and a post-intervention staff survey and a post intervention patient survey. In general, evaluation results of the pre- and post-intervention staff surveys showed that the implemented measures proved to be effective for both groups of stakeholders. The paper closes with recommendations for a concertedhospital quality management response to the problem of language barriers in clinical communication.

Author(s): Ursula Karl-Trummer, Karl Krajic, Sonja Novak-Zezula, Jurgen M Pelikan, Beate Schulze

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