Item Details

Multilingual interactions in clinical dental education: A focus on mediated interpreting

Issue: Vol 8 No. 3 (2011)

Journal: Communication & Medicine

Subject Areas: Healthcare Communication Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/cam.v8i3.197


In clinical dental consultations in multilingual contexts, medical interpreting is often performed by the supporting staff as part of routine triadic formulations. As academic dentistry becomes increasingly internationalised, issues of language and culture add to the interactional complexity of clinical communication and education. A multivariate approach was adopted to investigate one case of multilingualism in dentistry in Asia. Collection of both survey (n=86) and interactional data provided empirical evidence regarding language use and language demands across integrated Polyclinics. Descriptive statistics of Dental Surgery Assistant (DSA) perception data and conversation analysis (CA) of mediated interpretation indicate that, as members of the oral healthcare team, DSAs in Hong Kong are an essential resource in their role of intercultural mediators between patients and clinicians, both staff and students. Discussion of sociolinguistic notions of place-as-location and place-as-meaning supports a wider conceptualisation of the role of support staff as interpreters in clinical settings. Implications are drawn for policy, curriculum and staff development.

Author: Susan M. Bridges, Cynthia K.Y. Yiu, Colman P. McGrath

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