CTISS 2019 Research Seminar - Demi Krystallidou (Ku Leven, Belgium)

Friday 15th March 2019, 3.15pm - 4.45pm

Room: EM303

Topic: Investigating empathic communication in interpreter-mediated medical consultations: results of a mixed-methods study 

Empathy is considered to be a basic component of all therapeutic relationships and is associated with positive health outcomes. Common components of the various definitions of clinical empathy in the literature include the ability to understand another’s experience, to communicate and confirm that understanding with the other person, and to then act in a helpful manner. Although there is evidence that in language-discordant consultations empathy is compromised, little is known about the underlying interactional processes and the interpreter’s effect on clinical empathy in interpreter-mediated consultations. 

In this talk I will present the findings of the first study on the interpreter’s effect on the co-construction, expression and management of empathic communication in interpreter-mediated consultations. I will provide insights into the interactional processes and semiotic resources participants use in empathic communication in interpreter-mediated consultations. A mixed-methods research design was used including the quantifiable coding of empathic communication combined with multimodal interaction analysis and qualitative content analysis of video-stimulated recall interviews with patients, doctors and interpreters. The results of the study show that iempathic communication is susceptible to the interpreter’s renditions and to the use of non-verbal semiotic resources in the triad, and ii) interpreters experience difficulties in recognizing patients’ empathic opportunities and rendering them in an appropriate manner. Interpreters and doctors require skills to detect patient cues, assess them correctly, render them in an appropriate manner (interpreters) and display culturally sensitive communicative behaviours. This can be achieved by providing interprofessional education for medical and interpreting students so that both groups can collaborate in a complementary manner as part of an interprofessional team.