Interpreter-Mediated Healthcare Communication - Srikant Sarangi

Interpreter-Mediated Healthcare Communication - Srikant Sarangi

Mutual (mis)understanding in Interpreting in Consultations between Turkish Immigrant Patients and Dutch General Practitioners

Interpreter-Mediated Healthcare Communication - Srikant Sarangi

Sione Twilt [+-]
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences
Sione Twilt wrote her master’s thesis on the discourse of informal interpreting in general practice. She was involved in the European Grundtvig project ‘TRICC’ as a coordinator and researcher ( and currently teaches healthcare students in Rotterdam. Furthermore she is currently involved in analysing professional interactions between Dutch-speaking speech and language therapists and multilingual clients.
Ludwien Meeuwesen [+-]
Utrecht University
Ludwien Meeuwesen was associate professor at the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science at Utrecht University. She was actively involved in research and projects concerning medical communication, specifically migrant health, until shortly before her sudden death.
Jan D. ten Thije [+-]
Utrecht University
Jan D. ten Thije is Professor of Intercultural Communication at Utrecht University. He coordinates the master’s programme in Intercultural Communication and the Intercultural Competence project. His main fields of research concern institutional discourse in multicultural and international settings, lingua receptiva / receptive multilingualism, intercultural training, language education and functional pragmatics.
Hans Harmsen [+-]
Erasmus University
Hans Harmsen worked as a general practitioner in a multicultural neighbourhood in Rotterdam from 1980 until his retirement. As a trainer of GPs he was allied with the Department of General Practice of the Erasmus MC, Rotterdam. In 2003 he obtained his PhD, with his thesis titled When Culture Meets in General Practice: Improvement in Intercultural Communication Evaluated.


The aim of this exploratory study is to gain insight into the quality of translations of informal interpreters for Turkish immigrant patients consulting Dutch general practitioners. Several questions are addressed: what role does the interpreter take in the medical trialogue, and what is his/her ‘status’?; in what way does the interpreter stimulate or hinder communicative interaction?; and what kinds of miscommunication can be observed, and what are the underlying causes? Data consisted of 16 transcripts of video-recorded medical interviews. Stretches of discourse from eight interviews with good mutual understanding (externally assessed) between patient and doctor were compared with eight interviews with poor mutual understanding. The discourse analysis focused on (1) role-taking behaviour of interpreter, (2) miscommunication and its causes, (3) changes in the translation, (4) additional information and (5) side-talk activities. Findings show substantial differences between the two datasets. In the case of ‘poor mutual understanding’, the instances of miscommunication far exceeded those characterised as ‘good mutual understanding’. Content omissions and side-talk activities seemed to hinder good mutual understanding. This study contributes to knowledge about how informal interpreters stimulate or hinder the medical interaction process.

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Twilt, Sione ; Meeuwesen, Ludwien; ten Thije , Jan D.; Harmsen, Hans. Mutual (mis)understanding in Interpreting in Consultations between Turkish Immigrant Patients and Dutch General Practitioners. Interpreter-Mediated Healthcare Communication. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 118-144 Apr 2024. ISBN 9781845539030. Date accessed: 25 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44099. Apr 2024

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