How can the provision of interpreters in hospital emergency departments and inpatients wards be improved?

When:17 May 2016, 3pm - 4:30pm
Venue:Matthews 310
Who:Jenny Ryan
Jenny Ryan

Interpreting and Translation Seminar


A retrospective audit of the rate of provision of interpreting services in the emergency department and inpatient wards of Mater Hospital Brisbane indicated there is a correlation between length of stay of patients and interpreter provision. Literature from the US also supports this finding. Given this evidence and that communication is the key component to patient centred care we investigated why an interpreter is not provided as often as required. This was an explanatory case study with a focus on understanding the context. It included in-depth patient interviews whilst they were in hospital, family interview, chart and data reviews, staff and interpreter focus group discussions, qualitative phone interviews with medical staff and a staff survey.

Key findings included the lack of trust in the process of accessing and engaging an interpreter with phone interpreting seen as the most difficult. Additionally, clinicians expressed concern for the quality of the interpreter. Several recommendations were made including education of clinical staff on engaging and working effectively with interpreters.

Both research projects were conducted by Samantha Abbato and Associates, a research and evaluation consultancy practicing since 2005. Sam has a PhD in Epidemiology (UC Berkeley 1997) and a MPH in Epidemiology/ Biostatistics (UC Berkeley) and extensive training and experience in qualitative methods (Medical Anthropology). She is the 2015 recipient of the “Caulley Tulloch Award for Excellence in Evaluation” presented by the Australasian Evaluation Society for outstanding evaluation publication of her work on case study methodology applied to research and evaluation

About Jenny Ryan

Jenny’s career in improving cultural responsiveness within health contexts began in 2007 when she managed a project developing a best practice model of maternity service delivery for women of a refugee background. In 2010, following a project which investigated how Mater could improve its cultural responsiveness to the increasing diversity of patients and Mater people, Jenny was appointed Mater’s first Cultural Diversity Coordinator. Since her appointment she has continued to pursue improving the quality and accessibility of language services for patients with limited English proficiency. With a grant from the Mater Foundation and the appointment of Dr Samantha Abbato and Associates, two research projects have been completed which have significant findings for all health organisations.

Jenny’s qualifications include a Masters of Education and a Diploma in Project Management. She co-authored a paper with Dr Ignacio Correa Velez ‘Developing a best practice model of refugee maternity care.’ She remains passionate about improving health access for patients of a CALD background.

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