Informed consent as a communicative process between the patient and the health care provider allows for an opportunity to ask questions. Informed consent is an integral, ethical and legal component of the treatment process therefore, language barriers that negate informed consent must be addressed. For B.C.'s limited English proficiency population, informed consent for procedure or participation in clinical trials can only be achieved by using an interpreter.
The need for an interpreter is even more pronounced in the clinical trials as, in addition to the information exchange being more substantive (i.e. the study objectives, participant expectations, expected benefits, what is known or unknown about the drug or procedure, etc.), the trials in‐ form future treatment processes and drug utilization. If population groups are excluded due to language barriers, the number of eligible participants is reduced, and the study results are not inclusive of the diversity of the population.
Without an interpreter, an inequity prevails as one group is allowed access to treatment while another is robbed of the same. Disease and illness are not impeded by languages barrier; opportunities for treatment should not be either.
When working with an interpreter, health care providers should consider what their role would be if the patient were an English speaking patient and remember that their role does not change in an interpreter‐assisted appointment. It is essential to maintain control of the session and cultivate a relationship with the patient, not the interpreter.
It is always best practice to meet the interpreter a few minutes ahead of time for four main purposes:
- Briefly identify who you are and your role with the patient
- Provide a brief overview of the nature of the study and the types of terminology that might be used
- Provide general information about the nature of the session.
- Review your expectations of the process
- Have all parties introduce themselves.
- Explain the role of the interpreter to the client. Position yourself to maintain eye contact with and talk directly to the client.
- Use the first/second person 'I" and "you" rather than "him/her."
- Avoid jargon, technical terms and idioms.
- Keep statements short.
- Keep control of the conversation.
- Do not ask the interpreter to speak as a cultural liaison.
- If you and the interpreter need a conversation to explain terms or for clarification, ask the interpreter to explain to the patient the nature of the exchange