Spanish-speaking patients preferred in-person interpretation in ED setting

VANCOUVER, Canada — In a study of language barriers and its impact on care, researchers from Wisconsin found that in-person interpretation in an ED resulted in higher levels of patient satisfaction than telephone interpretation, according to data presented here at the 2014 Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting.

“While medical Spanish interpretation has been well studied, few have looked specifically at the use in the pediatric ED and to our knowledge only one study to date has investigated efficacy between in-person and telephone interpretation,” Breanne K. Pacheco Shah, MD, MPH, a fellow in training at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said at the meeting. “This study used concordance between provider assigned diagnosis and family identified diagnosis as a measure of efficacy and found no difference between interpretation methods. Additionally, this study looked at satisfaction and interestingly found that families were more satisfied with in-person interpretation, a finding that conflicts with prior studies.”

Breanne K. Pacheco Shah

Shah and colleagues evaluated children aged 12 years or younger (mean age, 51 months; 53% female) who were randomized to in-person (n=114) and telephone (n=104) interpretation to determine parent satisfaction with each type of Spanish interpretation for their child during an ED visit. Parents completed surveys pre- and post-encounter to address expectation and satisfaction. Providers also completed a post-visit survey regarding parent expectations.

The concordance between patient expectations and provider identification of expectations were not affected by method of interpretation (P=.37).

In-person groups were more likely (23%) to have an English-speaking family member in the exam room during the visit compared with the telephone group (10%). The in-person group also had more interpreted encounters from the physician while in the ED compared with the telephone group.

“This suggests the provider was in the room more with these patients which could translate to more updates or communication for the family,” Shah said.

Overall length of stay and time to first interpretation did not differ between the groups.

General satisfaction with the hospital encounter was similar between both groups. However, for questions pertaining specifically to interpretation, the in-person group rated their satisfaction higher.

“In conclusion, our randomized study comparing in-person and telephone interpretation the method of interpretation for Spanish-speaking patients in the pediatric ED did not have significant effect on concordance between patient and family expectations and provider understanding of those expectations,” Shah said. “However, patient families reported higher satisfaction with in-person interpretation and the data suggests that there are more interpretive provider interactions with in-person interpretation.” — by Amber Cox

For more information:

Pacheco Shah BK. Abstract 2195.8. Presented at: PAS 2014; May 2-6, 2014; Vancouver, Canada.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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