From concern for patients to a quest for information
This study of social representations about interpreted medical consultations examines the discourse of French language focus groups (FGs), conducted in Quebec, with 22 third year medical students (4 FGs), 29 family medicine residents (4 FGs) and 47 experienced family physicians (5 FGs). The audio-recorded FGs were transcribed. Each discussed two video vignettes of interpreted consultations. Statistical textual analysis showed that the students’ discourse patterns differed by FG. Residents prioritized access to the patient’s culture via the interpreter, though recognizing the need to respect the patient-physician relationship. Senior physicians organized their discourse differently for each vignette, associating it with a ‘standard’ response: for them, the two main issues were the quest for information, which we relate to the medical socialization process; and the interpreter’s stances, in terms of how s/he is perceived by physicians and the role(s) s/he is seen to play in the consultation. Physicians tend to represent the interpreter as a controllable ‘object’, not a full-fledged healthcare professional.