Rena Zendedel received NeFCA Dissertation Award 2017

Rena Zendedel received the award for her dissertation “Informal interpreting in Dutch general practice” from NeFCA, the Netherlands-Flanders Communication Association. The award aims to acknowledge excellent dissertations in the field of Communication Sciences and wants to recognize the quality of doctoral research in the Netherlands and Flanders. The prize was awarded during the “Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap” in Nijmegen last week.

The aim of this dissertation was to study informal interpreter-mediated communication in general practice by taking an integrative approach which combines the perspectives of all three interlocutors, that is Turkish-Dutch patients, informal interpreters – patients’ family members – and GPs on interpreters’ role perceptions and performances. The dissertation showed that patients and informal interpreters often aligned in their perspectives on interpreting in the medical setting (they expect the interpreter to advocate for the patient, to provide emotional support and to counsel), but that the perspective of GPs was different (they mainly expect the interpreter to translate). Audio recordings of actual consultations revealed that informal interpreters translated less than half of what is being communicated. Informal interpreters replaced both patients and GPs by asking and answering their questions. As a result, patients and GPs were (partly) excluded from the interaction by informal interpreters. These results pointed to potential miscommunications and frustration during the medical interaction.

According to the jury, the research addresses a relevant and significant issue for minorities in the Netherlands. The jury complimented Rena for applying a unique approach by addressing it from three perspectives simultaneously: the perceptions of patients, of interpreters as well as the perceptions of the doctors. The jury also appreciated that Rena conducted an impressive scope of work and utilized a variety of methods to inform her study. Beyond its remarkable scientific quality, the research has the capacity of making tangible impact on policy in the healthcare sector in the Netherlands and beyond.

Rena defended her dissertation in November 2017. It was supervised by Barbara Schouten, Bas van den Putte and Julia van Weert.

The PhD thesis can be downloaded here as a PDF: link