Language interpreting as social justice work: perspectives of formal and informal healthcare interpreters

ANS Adv Nurs Sci. 2009 Apr-Jun;32(2):128-43. doi: 10.1097/ANS.0b013e3181a3af97.


The assurance that limited-English-proficient individuals have access to quality healthcare depends on the availability of competent healthcare interpreters. To further understand the complex work of interpreting, we conducted in-depth interviews with 27 formal and informal healthcare interpreters. Participants identified the technical conduit role as the professional standard. Yet they experienced considerable role dissonance and blurring. From their position "in the middle," they witnessed discrimination and bias. Having a social justice perspective encouraged expanding their role to include advocacy and cultural brokering. Implications for nursing include a shared commitment to language access and social justice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cognitive Dissonance
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Cultural Competency
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multilingualism*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Advocacy*
  • Prejudice
  • Professional Role / psychology*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Justice*
  • Southeastern United States
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Translating
  • Trust / psychology