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Family Practice

Year: 2009  |  Volume: 26  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 377 - 383

A description of some aspects of the triangular meeting between immigrant patients, their interpreters and GPs in primary health care in Stockholm, Sweden

E Wiking, N Saleh Stattin, S. E Johansson and J. Sundquist


Background. Little is known about what immigrant patients, interpreters and GPs who have participated in the same consultation experience during these consultations or their reflections about these experiences. Previous studies have focused on the patient's, the interpreter's or the GP's perspective or a combination of two perspectives.

Objectives. The first aim was to describe some aspects of each of the three perspectives in the triangular meeting between immigrant patients, interpreters and GPs, including their experiences, reflections and interactions during the consultation in primary health care. The second aim was to analyse patients’ satisfaction with the consultation; whether satisfaction is influenced by respect for patients’ culture, personality and wishes; and whether interpreters or GPs experience any ethical conflicts during the consultation.

Methods. Using questionnaires, all three categories were asked about their opinions regarding the communication, their experiences and reflections during the consultation and the patient's satisfaction. The interpreters and GPs were asked about ethical conflicts.

Results. Of the 182 respondents, 52 were patients, 65 GPs and 65 interpreters. A matched group of answers from patients, GPs and interpreters was present in 40 consultations. Eighteen of the patients experienced language difficulties. Twenty-six experienced respect for their culture; 32, respect for their personality; and 33, respect for their wishes. Ethical conflicts were rare. All three categories reported that the majority of patients were satisfied with the consultation.

Conclusions. Professional interpreters are important for both a correct verbal and a cultural interpretation. Patient-centred communication is of key importance to a successful consultation.

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