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.