Objective: We sought to compare emergency department (ED) use of professional interpreters in 2008 to previously reported 2002 data. Methods: We surveyed consecutive adult patients for two 24-h periods at 4 Boston EDs in 2008. We used identical questions as in our 2002 study to assess English language barriers and to measure use and type of interpreter for those with language barriers. Results: We enrolled 498 patients (66% of eligible). Of these, 8% had a significant English language barrier, but any interpreter was used for only 69% of these patients; the corresponding data for 2002 were 11% and 89%, respectively. In 2008, compared to 2002, professional interpreter use was similar (18% vs. 15%; p=0.70), but a friend or family member interpreted more often (59% vs. 24%; p<0.001), and hospital staff less often (10% vs. 47%; p<0.001). Conclusion: We found that use of professional interpreters by Boston ED patients with language barriers remained low, despite publicity of the state mandatory interpreter law. However, a majority were comfortable with a friend or family member serving as the interpreter for the clinical encounter, a finding that may contribute to the limited usage of professional interpreters.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||3|
|Journal||Patient Education and Counseling|
|State||Published - Nov 2010|
- Emergency department
- Language barriers
ASJC Scopus subject areas