Survey Results: How healthcare interpreters are managing during the coronavirus pandemic

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Have you wondered how many fellow professional interpreters share your experiences and challenges? Interpreters who took the online class Interpreting Coronavirus  through the MasterWord Store were invited to participate in a survey of their experience. We share the results here, and offer some summary comments.

140 people participated in the survey so far, from early April to mid-July. (Note: The survey was available to those who took the class on the Continuing Education Units/Credits track.

Demand

Have you experienced less demand for your services in the last month?

Yes 81%
No 19%

Analysis:
In future iterations of this survey we will ask more detailed questions about how interpreters are managing the change in demand for their services, as well as whether they have been called back during the upsurge in cases across the country starting in early June.

Cancellations

Have you had more than usual cancellations of assignments for the month to come?

Yes
74%
No
26%

Kids

Have you had to stay home specifically because kids were not in school?

Yes
12%
No
23%
Children not in school
65%

Income

Have you suffered significant loss of income this past month, or do you anticipate that in the month to come?

Yes
69%
No
31%

Analysis:
Now that the pandemic has continued and even increased in intensity as of end of July, we are interested in how interpreters have managed the loss of income. We may ask more structured questions about whether the respondent is a staff interpreter or an independent contractor.

Demand for Onsite Work

If you normally do some onsite work, have you had a decrease in the onsite work?

Yes
76%
No
6%
I do not usually take onsite assignments
18%

Analysis:
In future surveys we will ask what percentage split of work the individual had before the pandemic (in-person versus remote), and what percentage split s/he has at the time of survey.

Demand for Remote Work

Have you experienced more demand to do telephonic or video work?

Yes
51%
No
39%
I work the same amount of remote hours
10%

Telemedicine

In March and April of 2020, How many times have you interpreted remotely for a patient at home taking with a doctor doing telemedicine?

0 times
54%
1 - 10 times
27%
>10 times
19%

Analysis:
Now that we have seen the pandemic extend over time and over a greater geographic area, such that more healthcare facilities have put routine care on hold or transferred it to online mode, we would expect that more interpreters will do telemedicine encounters.

Facemask worn by Provider

During the pandemic, what percentage of care team providers talking to the patient are wearing a mask covering their lower face?

Less than 50% time
18%
More than 50% time
82%

Analysis:
These results include respondents from back in April, so probably much higher % now. For the next round of surveys we may break down responses by time period, to see if there is a change over time for any of the questions.

Facemask worn by Interpreter

At what percentage of onsite visits are you wearing a mask?

Less than 50% time
5%
More than 50% time
49%
I do remote only / N/A
46%

Analysis:
These results include respondents from back in April, so probably closer to 100% for in-person now…!

Patient Anxiety Noticed by Interpreter

Since the pandemic began, have you noticed:

Increased anxiety in patients about being infected
75%
Increased anxiety in patients about family being infected
54%
Financial worry by patients about how to pay for testing and care
40%
Complaints of difficulty taking care of self or sick relatives
29%
Complaints of cancellations of routine care
38%
Disruptions in handling of prescriptions and needed treatments
29%
Anxiety/grief/anger over limitations on family accompaniment
49%

Analysis:
We did not ask whether interpreters have noticed patient anxiety or difficulty in navigating the new healthcare environment, such as when directed to use different entrances or even different facilities for care. We will add that to the next round of surveys.

We would love for you to take the survey as well, regardless of whether you took the class.

What other questions would you like to see posed to your fellow interpreters?

Do you have any thoughts or comments that you would like us to add to our analysis in future rounds of survey?

Please comment on this post.

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