Interpreting in Medical Settings:
Synthesis of Effective Practices Focus Group Discussions
Developed by Marty Taylor, Ph.D., Project Consultant
Background | Data Collection/Process | (1) Requisite Skills | (2) Advocacy/Support | (3) Cultural Differences | (4) Diversity | (5) Deaf Interpreters | (6) Sight Translations | (7) Patient Charts | (8) Conveying Meaning | (9) Crossover to Legal | (10) Job Description | Summary/Implications | Appendices | Download PDF of Report | Download PDF of Focus Group Survey Results
Summary of Data Collection and Process
A total of 12 focus groups held across the United States were convened between March and June 2007 to discuss effective practices for signed language interpreters working in medical settings. The focus groups represent a national sample of diversity including age, ethnicity, hearing status and years of experience. The focus groups were held in Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Texas. In some instances more than one focus group was held in the same state. Eight of the groups consisted of non-deaf interpreters. One group included deaf-blind consumers, a second group included a combination of deaf and non-deaf sign language interpreters and consumers, a third group included deaf interpreters, and a fourth group included interpreters and professionals who were deaf. For a detailed description of the specific demographics of the participants see the CATIE Center document, “Medical Interpreting Focus Groups Results for the Background and Experience Survey CATIE and NCIEC, Spring-Summer, 2007”.
This report and analysis includes a synthesis of the comments made by the 63 participants from all 12 focus groups. The participants met in small groups ranging in size from two to seven people. Each group had an experienced interpreter, either deaf or non-deaf, who functioned as a facilitator. Each facilitator was provided with the protocol for standardizing the selection of, the questions to ask, as well as the process and procedures for collecting the data. The protocol was based on a pilot focus group held in Canada and facilitated by the author of this report (see Appendix A). The discussions from this group are not included in this report but form the foundation of the standardized protocol used for selecting participants and documenting discussions. Following the prescribed protocol, facilitators were responsible to organize and manage the focus group process probing whenever possible to determine what interpreters say they do and what they “actually do”. In addition, a notetaker took notes throughout the discussions with two groups being videotaped. The notetaker was responsible to take notes writing complete thoughts in point form and asking questions of clarification needed for note taking purposes. With only one exception, neither the facilitator nor the notetaker participated in answering the questions that make up this report.
A total of ten questions were asked of each participant in nine of the 12 groups following the standardized protocol. One group provided their responses via email and two groups discussed scenarios related to interpreters’ role and boundaries (see Appendix B). The comments from the participants in the latter two groups are embedded within the summary of discussions related to the the ten questions. The ten questions were:
In addition, when there was sufficient time, participants were asked to comment on the job description contained in the Effective Practices Draft Document (11/28/06) developed by the Expert Group. The focus group participants were asked the following question.
A synthesis of the comments of all 63 participants is provided in the next section. Each section is divided into the ten questions noted above with the discussion of the scenarios imbedded within each section. When direct quotes were taken directly from the notes, quotation marks surround the comments. These illustrate a specific person’s comment and are representative of several related comments found in the discussion notes.
Due to the natural flow of conversations within small group interactions, some comments occurred in more than one section. In addition, other comments were made in one section that may have echoed comments made by another group in a different section. When these incidents occurred, comments were combined in logical groupings under the most appropriate section.