An exploratory study of language interpretation services provided by videoconferencing

J Telemed Telecare. 2003;9(1):51-6. doi: 10.1258/135763303321159701.


We explored the feasibility and acceptability of the remote provision of a language interpretation service during general practice consultations. Three methods were used to provide an interpretation service: a physically present interpreter (PI), a remote interpreter accessed using an ISDN videoconferencing link at 128 kbit/s (VI) and a remote interpreter accessed by telephone (TI). Thirty-six non-English-speaking patients were invited to take part and 35 agreed to do so. Twenty-nine (83%) of the patients recruited were female. The age range of the participants was 24-51 years. Fourteen consultations took place with a physically present interpreter, 11 using videoconferencing and 10 using the telephone. Mean scores on the Patient Enablement Instrument were 5.2 for the PI group, 2.3 for the VI group and 5.1 for the TI group. Mean scores on the Medical Interview Satisfaction Scale were 5.3 for the PI group, 4.9 for the VI group and 5.3 for the TI group. The visual quality and sound quality of remote interpreting were satisfactory. Both videoconferencing and hands-free telephones can deliver an acceptable interpreting service in primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Remote Consultation / standards*
  • Video Recording