Families with Limited English Proficiency Receive Less Information and Support in Interpreted Intensive Care Unit Family Conferences

This article examines differences between interpreted and noninterpreted family conferences in intensive care units. Little is known about interactions between physicians and non-English speaking families of patients in intensive care.

Researchers taped 51 noninterpreted and 10 interpreted family conferences. Variables examined included length of conference, percentage of time that clinicians, families, and interpreters spoke, and the number of supportive statements uttered by clinicians.

Key Findings:

  • Noninterpreted conferences were longer than interpreted conferences and had a higher percentage of clinician speech.
  • Interpreter speech accounted for 32 percent of speech in interpreted conferences.
  • Clinicians were less likely to make statements of support during interpreted conferences.

This study suggests that interpreted conferences may not provide family members of patients with as much information or support as noninterpreted conferences.