Bridging the language gap: A co-designed quality improvement project to engage professional interpreters for women duing labour

Jane Yelland, Mary Anne Biro, Wendy Dawson, Elisha Riggs, Dannielle Vanpraag, Karen Wigg, John Antonopoulos, Jenny Morgans, Jo Szwarc, Chris East, Stephanie Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objective The aim of the study was to improve the engagement of professional interpreters for women during labour. Methods The quality improvement initiative was co-designed by a multidisciplinary group at one Melbourne hospital and implemented in the birth suite using the plan-do-study-act framework. The initiative of offering women an interpreter early in labour was modified over cycles of implementation and scaled up based on feedback from midwives and language services data. Results The engagement of interpreters for women identified as requiring one increased from 28% (21/74) at baseline to 62% (45/72) at the 9th month of implementation. Conclusion Improving interpreter use in high-intensity hospital birth suites is possible with supportive leadership, multidisciplinary co-design and within a framework of quality improvement cycles of change. What is known about the topic? Despite Australian healthcare standards and policies stipulating the use of accredited interpreters where needed, studies indicate that services fall well short of meeting these during critical stages of childbirth. What does the paper add? Collaborative approaches to quality improvement in hospitals can significantly improve the engagement of interpreters to facilitate communication between health professionals and women with low English proficiency. What are the implications for practice? This language services initiative has potential for replication in services committed to improving effective communication between health professionals and patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-504
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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