Language mediation and patient-centered communication

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this paper we aim to contribute to the body of research conducted on interpreting in the healthcare setting by expanding its current range as a result of looking at the impact of language mediation on patient-centered communication. Based on data gathered from a mixed-methods study in five EU Member States (Germany, Greece, Italy Spain and the United Kingdom ) and from a 22-month ethnography conducted in California, this paper shows that when a provider/patient interaction is mediated by an interpreter, regardless of the modality used (face-to-face, or remotely e.g., video-teleconferencing or on speaker phone) and the theoretical assumptions and prescriptions to the contrary, the participation of the third interlocutor impacts the provider-patient relationship. This impact needs to be considered when discussing patient-centered or relationship-centered approaches to healthcare.

The paper starts by introducing healthcare-medical interpreting as a situated practice and its relationship to people’s movement, patient mobility and technological developments increasing the frequency and quantity of interpreted-mediated encounters. After briefly reviewing the historical background of medical interpreting, the literature on education and training of professional and non-professional interpreters, on person-centered care as well as on the provider-patient relationship this paper discusses two excerpts from previous studies and argues for a re-conceptualization of the provider-patient relationship to account for interpreted-mediated interactions with linguistically diverse patients.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterpreting in a Changing World
Subtitle of host publicationNew Scenarios, Technologies, Training Challenges and Vulnerable Groups
EditorsEncarnación Postigo Piñazo
Place of PublicationBerlin, Germany
PublisherPeter Lang
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-631-81042-2, 978-3-631-81043-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-631-76162-5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • person-centered care
  • relationship-centered care
  • healthcare interpreter
  • linguistically diverse patients
  • culturally diverse patients
  • non-professional interpreters


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