Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Interruptions and resistance: A comparison of medical consultations with family and trained interpreters


Author Info

  • Leanza, Yvan
  • Boivin, Isabelle
  • Rosenberg, Ellen
Registered author(s):


    While working with trained interpreters in health care is strongly recommended, few studies have looked at the subtle differences in communication processes between trained and "ad hoc" interpreters, such as adult family members. Using Habermas' Communicative Action Theory (CAT) which distinguishes between the Lifeworld (contextually grounded experiences) and the System (decontextualized rules), we analysed 16 family practice consultations with interpreters, 10 with a trained interpreter and 6 with a family member. We found clear differences in communication patterns between consultations with a trained interpreter and consultations with a family member as interpreter. In both cases the Lifeworld is frequently interrupted and the outcomes are similar: the Lifeworld is rarely heard and acknowledged by the physician. Physicians interrupt the Voice of the Lifeworld significantly more with a trained interpreter than with a family member. Family members and trained interpreters also interrupt the Voice of the Lifeworld just as much. However, these interruptions differ in their functions (both physicians and interpreters interrupt to keep the interview on track to meet the biomedical goals; family interpreters interrupt to control the agenda). We have identified patients' resistance when physicians ignore their Lifeworld, but this resistance is usually only transmitted by professional interpreters (and not by family interpreters). We identified specific risks of working with family interpreters: imposing their own agenda (vs. the patient's one) and controlling the consultation process. Even if the collaboration with trained interpreters becomes more widespread, work with "ad hoc" interpreters will continue to occur. Therefore, institutions should provide training and organizational support to help physicians and patients to achieve communication in all situations.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 70 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 12 (June)
    Pages: 1888-1895

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:70:y:2010:i:12:p:1888-1895

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Order Information:

    Related research

    Keywords: Medical interpreting Patient-provider interaction Habermas Communicative action theory Canada Physicians;


    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Lo, Ming-Cheng Miriam & Bahar, Roxana, 2013. "Resisting the colonization of the lifeworld? Immigrant patients' experiences with co-ethnic healthcare workers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 68-76.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:70:y:2010:i:12:p:1888-1895. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.