The perceptions of translation apps for everyday health care in healthcare workers and older people: A multi-method study

Anita Panayiotou, Kerry Hwang, Sue Williams, Terence W.H. Chong, Dina LoGiudice, Betty Haralambous, Xiaoping Lin, Emiliano Zucchi, Monita Mascitti-Meuter, Anita M.Y. Goh, Emily You, Frances Batchelor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: Our aim was to understand the attitudes and perceptions of older people with limited English proficiency (LEP) and healthcare workers to using mobile translation technology for overcoming language barriers in the healthcare setting. BACKGROUND: Australia's cohort of people aged 65 and over has a sizeable population with LEP. In healthcare settings, difficulties with communication may potentially result in inadequate care. Mobile language translation applications have been identified as a potential way to improve communication between patients and healthcare staff when used as an adjunct to professional interpreters in low risk scenarios, however the perceptions of the use of mobile translation applications for such communication is unknown. METHODS: A multi-method design was used. Focus group discussions were conducted with older people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and nursing and allied health professionals to understand their perceptions of translation technology. Qualitative data were analysed using inductive content analysis. Qualitative findings were reported using the Standards for Reporting of Qualitative Research (SRQR) checklist. Participants also appraised three existing translation apps via survey and results were analysed using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: Overall, older people from CALD backgrounds (n=12) and healthcare staff (n=17) agreed that translation technology could play a role in reducing communication barriers. There was enthusiasm amongst older people to learn and use the technology, while healthcare staff saw the potential to address communication barriers in their own work. Barriers identified by older people and healthcare staff included: accuracy of translation and phrases, possible technological learning curves, risk of mistranslation in high-risk conversation and inability to check accuracy of translation. Fixed phrase translation apps were seen as more favourable than real-time voice-to-voice mobile translation applications. CONCLUSIONS: Older people from CALD backgrounds and healthcare staff were open to the use of mobile translation applications for everyday healthcare communications. Relevance to clinical practice Translation applications may have a role in reducing language barriers in everyday healthcare communication but context, accuracy and ease of use need to be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3516-3526
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number17-18
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • communication
  • health care
  • language
  • multi-method
  • technology
  • translation

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