Medical Interpretation for Immigrant Workers

Forst, Linda et coll. (2012). Medical Interpretation for Immigrant Workers. New Solutions: A Journal of Environment and Occupational Health Policy, 22(1): 37-50.

Foreign-born workers have high rates of occupational mortality and morbidity, despite downward trends for the U.S. workforce overall. They have limited access to health care services. Medical interpreters (MIs) facilitate care of acutely injured, low-English-proficiency (LEP) patients, including those sustaining occupational injuries. Our goal was to assess the potential for MIs to serve as advocates of LEP patients injured at work and to deliver preventive messages. We conducted interviews and a focus group of MIs regarding their attitudes toward foreign-born workers, knowledge of occupational health, and perceived roles. They were familiar with occupational injuries and sympathetic toward foreign-born workers, and they described their roles as conduits, cultural brokers, and advocates for hospitals, providers, and patients. More detailed and representative data would require a larger investigation. However, the time-sensitive nature of policy-making at this point mandates that occupational health stakeholders participate in the national dialogue on standards, training, and licensure for MIs to promote improved access and quality of health care for LEP patients who have been injured at work.


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