PALLIATIVE CARE: Challenges in interpretation and vocabulary
In English-speaking countries, palliative care services in medical care are not a new concept, as they have evolved and become more robust since their inception in England in the mid-1960s. According to a 2018 survey in California, however, only 20% of the general public has heard about palliative care.
That lack of knowledge, coupled with the heavy emotional burden of patients and their families upon receiving bad news, complicates interpretation between Spanish-speaking patients and the multidisciplinary team of English-speaking palliative caregivers. Challenges remain even when interpreters are prepared, experienced, and familiar with the vocabulary. Conversations with terminal patients are the most difficult to interpret, not only linguistically and culturally, but also from the personal prism of the interpreter. The more prepared the interpreter is to participate in this type of encounter, the greater the chances of establishing clear and objective communication between the patient, his family members and the palliative care team.
This presentation aims to: 1) Outline some of the most important general aspects of interpretation in this setting; 2) Highlight the importance of cultural differences between Hispanic populations living in the United States and the perception of palliative care providers; 3) Emphasize the importance of promoting brief informational meetings with health care providers and the interpreter, before and after the conversations between provider and patient; 4) Review the vocabulary and terms most often used during these meetings; and 5) Pay attention to stress management and the effects of secondary trauma on interpreters.