Table of Contents
International Journal of Family Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 794937, 10 pages
Research Article

Consultations between Immigrant Patients, Their Interpreters, and Their General Practitioners: Are They Real Meetings or Just Encounters? A Qualitative Study in Primary Health Care

1Centre for Family Medicine (CeFAM), Department of Neurobiology, Caring Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Alfred Nobels Allé 12, 141 83 Huddinge, Sweden
2Department of Clinical Sciences, Center for Primary Health Care Research, Malmö, Lund University/Region Skåne, 221 00 Lund, Sweden
3Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5411, USA

Received 17 August 2012; Revised 28 November 2012; Accepted 4 December 2012

Academic Editor: Paula Vainiomäki

Copyright © 2013 Eivor Wiking et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. In Sweden, about 19% of residents have a foreign background. Previous studies reported immigrant patients experience communication difficulties despite the presence of interpreters during consultations. The objective of this study was to gain insights into the participants’ perceptions and reflections of the triangular meeting by means of in-depth interviews with immigrant patients, interpreters, and general practitioners (GPs). Method. A total of 29 participants—10 patients, 9 interpreters, and 10 GPs—participated in face-to-face interviews. Content analysis was used to process the interview material. Results. Six themes were generated and arranged under two subject areas: the interpretation process (the means of interpreting and means of informing) and the meeting itself (individual tailored approaches, consultation time, the patient’s feelings, and the role of family members). Conclusion. This paper highlights feelings including frustration and insecurity when interpretation and relationships are suboptimal. Strategies for immigrant patients, interpreters, and GPs for getting a successful consultation may be needed. To transform the triangular meeting from an encounter to a real meeting, our results indicate a need for professional interpreters, for GPs to use a patient-tailored approach, and sufficient consultation time. Practice Implications. Use of professional interpreters is recommended, as is developing cultural competence.