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Nurses' perceptions of working with immigrant patients and interpreters in Finland




To describe nurses' perceptions of the factors to consider when using interpreters in primary health care nursing with immigrant patients.

Design and sample

This was a qualitative study using inductive content analysis. The participants (n = 8) were public health nurses working in one Finnish primary health care center with experience of the use of interpreters.


Data were collected using individual interviews and analyzed using inductive content analysis.


The factors to be considered when using interpreters are related to the interpreter, to the nurse, and to the patient. Important criteria for interpreters are their professional knowledge, professional role, and personal character. Careful planning and realization of the appointment is essential for the proper use and cost-effectiveness. The patients' difficulties to understand the role of the interpreter, protection of patients' privacy, and patients' desires concerning the interpreter are factors to consider.


The use of an interpreter is dependent on multiple factors. The interpreter supports the communication between the nurse and the patient. Interpreter use can increase the amount of work undertaken by nurses and make the relationship between the nurse and the patient more complicated, or even create ethical problems.