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Abstract

Although using trained interpreters can improve care for patients with limited English proficiency, using untrained interpreters may impair it. Without a valid language skills test for interpreters, it is difficult for health care organizations to identify bilingual staff who can serve in a dual role as interpreters. We hypothesized that individuals born outside the U.S. with a higher education level and prior interpreting training and reporting high confidence in interpreting abilities would be more likely to pass a test to function as a dual-role interpreter. We surveyed and tested 387 dual-role interpreters in a large, integrated health care organization. There was a positive association between the above factors and passing the test. Studies like these may help health care organizations to better screen dual-role interpreters. Until standards for interpreters are developed, anyone asked to function as an interpreter in a health care setting, including dual-role interpreters, should undergo testing.

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