Communicating in medical settings: strategies & challenges for effective cross-cultural interpreting
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2018 Dr. Maria Karidakis
This thesis examines ways in which interpreting practice in healthcare settings can be enhanced in order to better facilitate communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. This study is based on 17 audio-recordings of semi-structured interviews with interpreters of Aboriginal languages and Aboriginal Liaison Officers (ALOs) in metropolitan, regional and remote sites in Australia. This thesis is built around two major research questions. The first focuses on how interpreters and ALOs talk about how they do their work. The findings illustrate that the interpreters and ALOs use storytelling to talk about their professional practice. A small story and narrative positioning analysis framework is used to analyse these stories. The resultant analysis foregrounds the positions that the interpreters and ALOs adopt as they tell their stories and highlights the Discourses that they invoke to frame their professional identity. The second research question explores the strategies and actions the interpreters and ALOs report they use to resolve potential communication differences that may confound the interpreting process. The findings suggest that provisions need to be made for cultural differences. Interpreters report they have to ‘unpack’ medical terminology pertaining to biomedical concepts such as cancer, fungus infection and diabetes. They explain such terminology and related concepts in tangible terms to ensure patient understanding. Other strategies include talking about sensitive topics such as private body parts, sexually transmitted infection and death and dying using culturally appropriate terms; avoiding certain question-answer routines typical in western communicative interaction and being aware of non-verbal aspects of communication.
Keywordsmedical interpreting; cross-cultural communication; applied linguistics; sociolinguistics
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