To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Using children as informal interpreters in pediatric consultations

Bethany R Russell (Department of Child Life, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health
, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States)
Alejandro Morales (Department of Psychology and Sociology, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California, United States)
Russell D Ravert (Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, United States)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 21 September 2015



Health care professionals (HCPs) face numerous barriers in providing services to limited English proficient (LEP) patients and their families. The purpose of this paper is to explore and expand on the limited scholarship concerning HCPs’ experiences using children as informal interpreters in pediatric consultations.


Ten HCPs from five different fields participated in this study. They were interviewed over the phone and replied to follow-up correspondence about their knowledge on policies for communicating with LEP patients and/or their families when providing medical care.


Using a thematic analysis five themes emerged across all cases: cultural awareness, communication quality, live interpreters as a solution, use of child language brokers (CLBs), and the norm of child language brokering. Through the development of the aforementioned themes, HCPs’ limited awareness of implications when using CLBs and of the established policies related to this phenomenon were apparent.


This lack of knowledge, acknowledged by HCPs, provides a platform from which to create awareness of the need for further education about the potential risks CLBs face when interpreting medical information and of the negative impact this process can have on the overall medical outcome of a patient. Furthermore, it allows the authors to address the ignorance within the health care system that has allowed vulnerabilities to LEP individuals being treated in health care facilities.



Russell, B.R., Morales, A. and Ravert, R.D. (2015), "Using children as informal interpreters in pediatric consultations", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 132-143.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited