Publication Details

Alananzeh, I., Ramjan, L., Kwok, C., Levesque, J. V. & Everett, B. (2018). Arab-migrant Cancer Survivors' Experiences of Using Health-care Interpreters: A Qualitative Study. Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing, 5 (4), 399-407.


Objective: This paper is drawn from a larger mixed-method study that sought to explore the cancer experiences of Jordanian and Australian Arab cancer survivors and their family caregivers. This paper specifically focuses on the experiences of the Australian cancer survivors and their use of interpreter services to communicate with health-care providers (HCPs). Methods: Individual face-to-face interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were manually thematically analyzed using an inductive approach. Results: Three key themes were identified which highlighted the communication issues the Arab-migrant cancer survivors experienced when using health-care interpreters: (1) 'My language is weak' - needing someone to help them when communicating with their HCPs; (2) 'I had a problem in the dialect' - the need to understand and to be understood by the interpreters; and (3) 'I felt all the time that there is something missing' - not being heard by the interpreter. Low confidence in engaging and using the English language meant many cancer survivors were reluctant to seek support from cancer services or to attend workshops conducted in the English language. Despite the presence of professionally trained health-care interpreters in health-care communications, cancer survivors were frustrated when provided with interpreters who did not speak the same dialect, causing linguistic and cultural discord. This created confusion as information was often misinterpreted, resulting in the delivery and receipt of mixed messages. Conclusions: Despite the availability of professionally trained health-care interpreters, our findings identified the need for HCPs to ascertain linguistic and cultural congruence when arranging interpreter services.



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