Educational survey to increase professional interpreter use
MetadataShow full item record
BACKGROUND: The population of limited English proficiency (LEP) patients has grown significantly and healthcare professionals must overcome language barriers to provide high quality healthcare to these patients. Language barriers create healthcare disparities and affect quality of care, health outcomes, patient safety, and access to health services in LEP patients. Several methods are used to foster language-concordant encounters, most importantly professional interpreter services. Although the use of professional interpreters is superior to other methods, utilization of professional interpreters remains low. Common reasons for insufficient interpreter use by healthcare professionals include inconvenience related to obtaining an interpreter and the decreased time available for patient interaction. However, interventions that attempt to mitigate these limitations have increased usage of professional interpreters but not to a sufficient degree. Low professional interpreter use is a multifactorial problem and several factors are still unknown. Little existing research has focused on LEP patients’ knowledge and perceptions of language barriers and professional interpreter use and, thus, not much is known about patient barriers to professional interpreter use. That which is known includes that the majority of LEP patients are unaware of their right to request a professional interpreter at no cost. Some have feelings of fear and embarrassment that prevent them from requesting an interpreter. Patients want a professional interpreter based on subjective measures rather than empirical research. It has yet to be determined whether or not patients are aware of the existing research surrounding the negative effects of language barriers and benefits of professional interpreter use. It is difficult to know if there is a lack of knowledge and if additional knowledge would prompt more patients to request professional interpreters. METHODS: The study is a non-randomized trial with a control and intervention group. The intervention will be a pre-appointment survey about language barriers and interpreter use that acts as both an educational tool and a method to assess patients’ knowledge about language barriers and professional interpreter use. Each study group will have a 3-week recruitment period. After their appointments, both groups will receive a post-appointment survey to determine if an interpreter was used. Analysis of the proportions of patients who used an interpreter in the control and intervention group will be compared using Chi-square statistical testing to determine if the survey instrument increased interpreter use. CONCLUSION: This study will demonstrate if LEP patients lack knowledge regarding language barriers and professional interpreter use. It will also provide evidence of a potential association between this lack of knowledge and low professional interpreter use.