Interviewing patients using interpreters in an oncology setting: initial evaluation of a communication skills module

Posted: Jan 17, 2013
Ann Oncol. 21. 1. 27-32.
KEYWORDS: Language or Cultural Barriers, Non-English Speaking, Provider-Patient Relationship, Provider Influence, Minority Groups, Cancer


Communication skills training for health professionals improved confidence in interviewing non-English speaking patients with translators. 

Why this item may be useful

The authors developed a communication skills training module for health professionals who work with professional translators in interviewing patients. The module combines didactic presentation of information and group role-play exercises in which trained medical interpreters help trainees communicate with bilingual patients. The module stresses communication strategies, including optimal seating arrangements that strengthen the clinician-patient relationship and de-emphasize interpreter-patient and interpreter-clinician interactions. Evaluation of the module showed a significant increase in confidence on the part of clinicians in working with interpreters and providing better care to non-English speakers. The authors designed the module to address cancer care in general, without a special focus on recruitment. However, good communication skills are essential to recruitment. In combination with a similar module on making shared decisions about trial participation, this module is likely to play a beneficial role in increasing accrual of a diverse population of participants.


  • Forty-seven health care professionals from multiple disciplines participated in training workshops during the 2007-2008 academic year.
  • The workshops were presented in a Comprehensive Cancer Center setting.
  • This module developed for cancer care may be generalizable for other medical settings.