Zendedel, R., Schouten, B.C., Van Weert, J.C.M., & Van den Putte, B. (2016). Informal interpreting in general practice: The migrant patient’s voice. Ethnicity and Health. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2016.1246939

Objective: To explore the perspective of Turkish-Dutch general practitioner (GP) patients on informal interpreting from an integrated theory base, focusing on interpreters’ roles, trust and power.
Design: Semi-structured in depth interviews were conducted with 21 first-generation Turkish-Dutch migrant patients who made use of informal interpreters to communicate with their GPs. An interview guide was designed based on the theoretical framework of interpreter’s roles, trust and power, covering questions about interpreters’ role, trust in informal/professional interpreters and power division in the medical consultation. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed according to the constant comparative method.
Results: Besides providing linguistic translation, informal interpreters were expected to perform the roles of advocates and caregivers of the patients. Informal interpreters were trusted more than professional interpreters, mainly for fidelity reasons, that is, because the patients assumed that informal interpreters would act in their best interests. Although informal interpreters were often perceived as the primary interlocutor, the patients did not feel dominated by them, but rather empowered by their presence.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate a connection between the role of the advocate, the fidelity dimension of trust and the perceived empowerment of the patients. By linking interpreters’ role to trust and power, this study contributes to theory building in the field of informal interpreting, which is needed to design evidence-based interventions to improve health care delivery to patients with insufficient language ability and thus to advance health care delivery to migrant patients, which is currently lagging behind.

Keywords: Medical interpreting, language barrier, migrant patients, family interpreting, health communication, semi structured interviews

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