10. Challenges in interpreters’ coordination of the construction of pain

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The tasks performed by the healthcare interpreter are complex, as they involve bridging together beliefs and values from different speech communities. This complexity increases when conceptualizations of illnesses and worldviews are not shared. Pain is perceived and communicated differently by members of different cultural communities. Conversations about pain include discussions about intensity of pain based on pain-rating scales as well as discussions of pain management. Healthcare interpreters face challenges in constructing and co-constructing pain while facilitating cross-linguistic communication. In this chapter I analyze interactions of healthcare provider-and-patient interviews which are part of a larger study dealing with the issues faced by Spanish-speaking patients, English-speaking providers and Spanish-English interpreters who engage in measuring and describing pain with the use of a pain-rating scale. The implications of this work for professionals such as policy makers, educators, healthcare providers and interpreters are discussed.


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