Effect of Spanish Interpretation Method on Patient Satisfaction in an Urban Walk-in Clinic

Authors

  • Linda J. Lee MD,

    1. Received from the Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (LJL, JHM, JSK) and the Department of Medicine, Denver Health Medical Center (HAB), Denver, Colo.
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  • Holly A. Batal MD, MBA,

    Corresponding author
    1. Received from the Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (LJL, JHM, JSK) and the Department of Medicine, Denver Health Medical Center (HAB), Denver, Colo.
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  • Judith H. Maselli MSPH,

    1. Received from the Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (LJL, JHM, JSK) and the Department of Medicine, Denver Health Medical Center (HAB), Denver, Colo.
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  • Jean S. Kutner MD, MSPH

    1. Received from the Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (LJL, JHM, JSK) and the Department of Medicine, Denver Health Medical Center (HAB), Denver, Colo.
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  • Presented in part at the 24th annual meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine, May 3, 2001, San Diego, Calif.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Batal: Denver Health Medical Center, 777 Bannock St., Box 0107, Denver, CO 80204 (e-mail: hbatal@dhha.org).

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of Spanish interpretation method on satisfaction with care.

DESIGN: Self-administered post-visit questionnaire.

SETTING: Urban, university-affiliated walk-in clinic.

PARTICIPANTS: Adult, English- and Spanish-speaking patients presenting for acute care of non-emergent medical problems.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Satisfaction with overall clinic visit and with 7 provider characteristics was evaluated by multiple logistic regression, controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, education, insurance status, having a routine source of medical care, and baseline health. “Language-concordant” patients, defined as Spanish-speaking patients seen by Spanish-speaking providers and English-speaking patients, and patients using AT&T telephone interpreters reported identical overall visit satisfaction (77%; P = .57), while those using family or ad hoc interpreters were significantly less satisfied (54% and 49%; P < .01 and P = .007, respectively). AT&T interpreter use and language concordance also yielded similar satisfaction rates for provider characteristics (P > .2 for all values). Compared to language-concordant patients, patients who had family members interpret were less satisfied with provider listening (62% vs 85%; P = .003), discussion of sensitive issues (60% vs 76%; P = .02), and manner (62% vs 89%; P = .005). Patients who used ad hoc interpreters were less satisfied with provider skills (60% vs 83%; P = .02), manner (71% vs 89%; P = .02), listening (54% vs 85%; P = .002), explanations (57% vs 84%; P = .02), answers (57% vs 84%; P = .05), and support (63% vs 84%; P = .02).

CONCLUSIONS: Spanish-speaking patients using AT&T telephone interpretation are as satisfied with care as those seeing language-concordant providers, while patients using family or ad hoc interpreters are less satisfied. Clinics serving a large population of Spanish-speaking patients can enhance patient satisfaction by avoiding the use of untrained interpreters, such as family or ad hoc interpreters.

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