Constraints and conditions to which interpreting is subject in multilingual, multicultural health care

En tolkningssituation

Challenges that multilingual, multicultural health care faces in the effort to meet demands for equitable care and patient participation. Various relevant institutions – prenatal care, geriatrics, immigrant health care, emergency care – are included. 

The purpose is to illuminate the role of circumstances and organisational context in order to examine the constraints, conditions, methods and traditions to which interpreting is subject. 

There are no guidelines for how interpreting is to be used – insufficient reliance on interpreters in geriatrics 

The lack of guidelines for how interpreting is to be used leads to insufficient reliance on professional interpreters. The challenges of providing interpreters for the elderly demand planning far in advance. Professional interpreters are used on well-planned occasions during working hours, whereas informal interpreters (often family members) are used on short notice and after working hours. Providing care takes longer if an interpreter is present. Interpreters are needed not only to transmit words in another language but as spokespeople and conveyors of written information. Older people who do not speak Swedish lack sufficient opportunities to participate on an equal footing in health care and social activities. Communication takes longer and uncertainty remains about whether ideas have been transmitted or not and whether the message has been conveyed.

Societal benefits 

The project addresses important knowledge gaps in previous research by virtue of its interdisciplinary structure and its focus on the role of organisational context in interpreting as a clinical tool for the healthcare system. The project is being carried out in close collaboration with individuals who provide the practical services to be examined in order to improve opportunities of communication through interpreters on behalf of Swedes born abroad as a means of meeting demands for equitable care and patient participation.