The interpreter as cultural educator of residents: improving communication for Latino parents

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Nov;160(11):1145-50. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.160.11.1145.


Objective: To determine whether augmentation of the Spanish interpreter's role to include cultural education of residents can improve the satisfaction of Latino patients.

Design: We assessed parent satisfaction during 4 sequential 2-month periods between June 1, 2004, and February 11, 2005, using different interpretation methods: telephone interpretation (n = 91 patient encounters), trained in-person interpretation (n = 49), in-person interpretation with cultural education of residents (n = 65), and postprogram telephone interpretation (n = 45).

Setting: General pediatric practice at a large teaching hospital.

Participants: A total of 250 Spanish-speaking parents who were limited in English proficiency.

Interventions: The cultural education program included 3 brief preclinic conferences taught by an interpreter and one-on-one teaching of residents about language and cultural issues after each clinical encounter.

Main outcome measures: Parent satisfaction was assessed using 8 questions that have previously been validated in Spanish. Lower scores indicated more satisfaction.

Results: Because they were limited in English proficiency, our Spanish-speaking patients were significantly more satisfied when an in-person interpreter was used compared with a telephone interpreter (mean total satisfaction score of 14.5 [in-person] vs 17.4 [telephone]; P = .006) but were even more satisfied when the interpreter educated residents in cultural and language issues (mean, 11.5 [in-person with education] vs 17.4 [telephone]; P<.001).

Conclusion: Although use of an in-person interpreter can increase Latino parents' satisfaction, a program using an interpreter to educate residents in cultural and language issues can increase satisfaction further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Connecticut
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / education*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Internship and Residency
  • Language
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Professional-Patient Relations*