That I won't translate! Experiences of a family medical interpreter in a multicultural environment

Rhona D. Seidelman, Yaacov G. Bachner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Family members used as patients' interpreters are a common occurrence in the medical environments of multicultural societies. It is recognized that the use of the family-member interpreter may have some benefits. However, studies show that this option also has substantial disadvantages and therefore suggest that the use of professional medical interpreters is the preferable option for effective quality care. The purpose of the current study is to present the narrative of a family-member interpreter in Israel, a diverse immigrant society. While numerous studies have been done on the challenges in the doctor-interpreter-patient medical encounter, these studies tend to focus on the experiences of the physicians or the patients, and the perspective of the interpreter is often sidelined. After discussing the various interpreting options, we suggest that the perspective of the family-member interpreter strengthens assertions that professional interpretation is the best option for multilingual medical environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-393
Number of pages5
JournalMount Sinai Journal of Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • Communication
  • Interpreters
  • Israel
  • Multiculturalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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