Volume 4 ~ May 2012

ISSN # 2150-5772 - This article is the intellectual property of the authors and CIT. If you wish to use this article in your teaching or in another format, please credit the authors and the CIT International Journal of Interpreter Education.

Bilingual Dual-Role Staff Interpreters in the Health Care Setting: Factors Associated With Passing a Language Competency Test


Lisa C. Diamond 1
Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service

Maria Moreno and Christy Soto
Sutter Health Institute for Research and Education

Regina Otero-Sabogal
University of California, San Francisco

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Although using trained interpreters can improve care for patients with limited English proficiency, using untrained interpreters may impair it. Without a valid language skills test for interpreters, it is difficult for health care organizations to identify bilingual staff who can serve in a dual role as interpreters. We hypothesized that individuals born outside the U.S. with a higher education level and prior interpreting training and reporting high confidence in interpreting abilities would be more likely to pass a test to function as a dual-role interpreter. We surveyed and tested 387 dual-role interpreters in a large, integrated health care organization. There was a positive association between the above factors and passing the test. Studies like these may help health care organizations to better screen dual-role interpreters. Until standards for interpreters are developed, anyone asked to function as an interpreter in a health care setting, including dual-role interpreters, should undergo testing.

Keywords: interpreter; foreign born; survey; testing, assessment and evaluation; training

1 Correspondence to: diamondl@mskcc.org