A Comparison of the Influence of Hospital-Trained, Ad Hoc, and Telephone Interpreters on Perceived Satisfaction of Limited English-Proficient Parents Presenting to a Pediatric Emergency Department

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Background:Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the United States with a significant percentage of this population having limited English proficiency.Objective:To determine whether mode of interpretation influences satisfaction of limited English-proficient parents presenting to a tertiary care pediatric emergency department.Design:One hundred eighty parents of patients presenting to a pediatric emergency department were surveyed after receiving services from one of the following interpreters: hospital-trained, ad hoc, or telephone. An English-proficient comparison group of 60 parents of any ethnicity was also surveyed (total N = 240).Results:Parents were significantly more satisfied (P < 0.001) with hospital-trained interpreters. While no significant difference was found in overall visit satisfaction, there were significant differences in several other outcome variables. When hospital-trained interpreters were used, parents were significantly more satisfied (P < 0.001) with their physicians and nurses. With regard to the ability to communicate with pediatric emergency department personnel, parents using hospital-trained interpreters averaged significantly higher scores (P < 0.001) than the telephone group. Quality-of-care scores were significantly higher (P < 0.001) for parents assigned to hospital-trained interpreters than for the other forms of interpretation. English-proficient parents scored highest in the following categories: ability to communicate, quality of care, and overall visit satisfaction. Parents using hospital-trained interpreters scored higher than English-proficient parents when questioned about physician and nursing satisfaction.Conclusion:Hospital-trained interpreters are a valuable and needed resource to facilitate communication with limited English-proficient patients and families. Other interpretation services are useful but have limitations.

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