Interpreter-mediated Cognitive Assessments: Who Wins and Who Loses?

Betty Haralambous, Jean Tinney, Dina LoGiudice, Sook Meng Lee, Xiaoping Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The number of people with dementia from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds is increasing dramatically in Australia. Accurate cognitive assessments of people from CALD backgrounds can be achieved with the use of skilled interpreters. This study aimed to explore the experience of interpreter-mediated assessments from the perspectives of clinicians, interpreters and carers. Methods: Consultations with interpreters, clinicians and carers were conducted through individual interviews and focus groups. The consultations explored participants’ experiences of interpreter-mediated assessments, including perception of the interpreting process, roles of interpreters, and challenges associated with interpreter-mediated assessments. Results: Four themes emerged across groups: (1) the importance of having professional interpreters, (2) different perceptions of the roles of interpreters, (3) clinicians’ feelings of having less control over assessments, and (4) particular challenges associated with cognitive assessments. Conclusions: Finding from this study highlight the important role that interpreters play in cognitive assessments with immigrants. However, there appears to be different perceptions of the role between clinicians and interpreters. When these different understandings are not resolved, they will lead to tension between clinicians and interpreters. These findings highlight the importance of relational aspects in interpreter-mediated assessment and suggest that the negotiation of the relationships between clinicians and interpreters is an important factor that determines the effectiveness and accuracy of these assessments. Clinical Implications: This study highlights the need for clinicians and interpreters education of roles of all parties in interpreter-mediated cognitive assessment. Areas to be covered in education could include: common misunderstandings of interpreters roles, and practice tips on how to improve communications in assessments, such as briefing before and after the assessment. Such education will enable more accurate assessment and less stress for patients and their families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-236
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Barriers
  • CALD
  • cognitive assessments
  • dementia
  • interpreters

Cite this