Translation Services and Cultural Concerns

  • Ensure that patients whose first language is not English have access to sensitive translation services.
  • Be aware that a patient with a speech problem may prefer communicating through an intermediary who is familiar with the patient’s speech patterns. If the intermediary assists with the communication of information recorded in the medical record, be sure to record the intermediary’s name, address and telephone number in the signature section of page four of the Medical Report. (See page 25).
  • Provide a sign language interpreter when necessary.
  • Be tolerant of patient’s language skills and communication barriers, which may be worsened by crisis.
  • Be familiar with the cultures in your community in order to build an awareness and appreciation of them, so that your actions and demeanor will help to mitigate rather than exacerbate the trauma.
  • Understand that some patients may be apprehensive about service providers from cultural backgrounds different from their own.
  • Be aware that discussing sexual assault or sexual terms may be associated with shame and embarrassment in some cultures, and that in some cultures the loss of virginity is devastating.
  • Recognize that beliefs about women, men, sexuality, sexual orientation, race, culture, religion, and sexual assault may be very different among patients – never assume anything.