Caring for patients with limited english proficiency: Are residents prepared to use medical interpreters?

Darcy A. Thompson, Raquel G Hernandez, John D. Cowden, Stephen D Sisson, Margaret R Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


PURPOSE: To evaluate whether educational sessions on interpreter use and experience with interpreters are associated with resident self-efficacy in the use of professional interpreters. METHOD: In 2010, the authors surveyed residents from seven pediatric residency programs. Their 29-item survey collected data on training and experience with interpreters and self-efficacy in (1) determining when an interpreter is needed and (2) using a professional interpreter. The authors conducted bivariate and multivariate regression analyses. RESULTS: Among the 271 respondents, 82% reported that ≥ 10% of their patients had limited English proficiency (LEP), 53% indicated they had a lot of experience with interpreters, and 54% reported never receiving any educational sessions on interpreter use. The majority reported high self-efficacy in knowing when an interpreter is needed (69%) and in using an interpreter (68%). Residents reporting a high experience level with interpreters were more likely to report high self-efficacy in knowing when an interpreter is needed (odds ratio [OR] = 1.85; 95% confidence interval[CI] = 1.03-3.32) and in using an interpreter (OR = 3.97; 95% CI = 1.19-13.31). Formal training on using interpreters was also associated with high self-efficacy in interpreter use(OR = 1.62; 95% CI = 1.22-2.14). CONCLUSIONS: Many residents who care for patients with LEP have never received educational sessions on interpreter use. Such training is associated with high self-efficacy and may enhance patient-provider communication. Incorporating this training into residency programs is necessary to equip providers with skills to communicate with patients and families with LEP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1485-1492
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Education

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