Can a Web-Based Curriculum Improve Students' Knowledge of, and Attitudes About, the Interpreted Medical Interview?


  • The authors have no conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise, to declare for this article or this research.

  • The Description was published as Innovations in Medical Education (500 word abstract) in: Kalet, A, Gany, F, Senter, L. Working with Interpreters: An Interactive Web-based Learning Module. Acad Med. 2002;77: 927.

  • This research was presented as an “Innovations in Medical Education” poster at the 26th Annual SGIM Meeting, May 2003, Vancouver, BC.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Kalet: 550 First Avenue, Old Bellevue, D401B, New York, NY 10016 (e-mail:


Objectives: To develop and evaluate a web-based curriculum to introduce first year medical students to the knowledge and attitudes necessary for working with limited English proficient (LEP) patients through interpreters.

Method: Six hundred and forty first year medical students over 4 consecutive years took this curriculum as part of their Patient Physician and Society course. They viewed 6 patient-physician-interpreter video vignettes, gave open text analyses of each vignette, and compared their responses to those generated by experts, thereby receiving immediate formative feedback. They listened to video commentaries by a cultural expert, lawyer, and ethicist about working with LEP patients, completed pre- and postmodule questionnaires, which tested relevant knowledge and attitudes, and were provided a summative assessment at the end of the module. Students completed an optional survey assessing the educational value of, and providing open text commentary about, the module.

Results: Seventy-one percent (n=456) of first year students who completed the module consented to have their data included in this evaluation. Mean knowledge (19 items) scores improved (46% pre- to 62% postmodule, P<.001), reflecting improvements in knowledge about best interpreter practices and immigration demographics and legal issues. Mean scores on 4 of 5 attitude items improved, reflecting attitudes more consistent with culturally sensitive care of LEP patients. Mean satisfaction with the educational value of the module for 155 students who completed the postmodule survey was 2.9 on a scale of 1 to 4.

Conclusion: Our web-curriculum resulted in short-term improvement in the knowledge and attitudes necessary to interact with LEP patients and interpreters. The interactive format allowed students to receive immediate formative feedback and be cognizant of the challenges and effective strategies in language discordant medical encounters. This is important because studies suggest that the use of these skills in patient encounters leads to greater patient and provider satisfaction and improved health outcomes.