Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 27, Issue 12, pp 1602–1608 | Cite as

Patient-Reported Quality of Pain Treatment and Use of Interpreters in Spanish-Speaking Patients Hospitalized for Obstetric and Gynecological Care

  • Nathalia JimenezEmail author
  • Gerardo Moreno
  • Mei Leng
  • Dedra Buchwald
  • Leo S. Morales
Original Research



Assessment and treatment of pain are based largely on patient’s self reports. Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) may have difficulties communicating their pain symptoms in the presence of language barriers.


To determine whether interpreter use was associated with quality of acute pain treatment among Latina patients with limited English proficiency.


Secondary analysis of two cross-sectional surveys.


One hundred and eighty-five Latino female patients hospitalized for obstetric and gynecological care who required interpreter services. Patients were classified into two groups according to interpreter availability ('Always' and 'Not Always' available).


Quality of pain treatment was measured by patient report of 1) overall level of pain control during hospitalization; 2) timeliness of pain treatment; and 3) perceived provider helpfulness to treat pain.


Patients who always received interpreters were more likely to report higher levels of pain control (P = 0.02), timely pain treatment (P = 0.02), and greater perceived provider helpfulness to treat their pain (P = 0.005), compared with patients who not always received interpreters.


Use of interpreters by LEP patients was associated with better patient reports on quality of pain treatment, and may also improve clinical interactions related to pain.


interpreters limited English proficiency Latinos/Latinas pain pain treatment 



Research Funding

This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute [U01 CA114642 to DB]; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [DK 082325 to NJ, PI: DB]; the National Center for Research Resources [1KL2-RR02-5015 to Mary Disis]; and the Department of Health and Human Services [1T32GM086270-01 to NJ, PI: Debra Schwinn]. Gerardo Moreno and Mei Leng received support from the University of California, Los Angeles, Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research Center for Health Improvement of Minority Elderly (RCMAR/CHIME) under NIH/NIA Grant P30-AG021684).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathalia Jimenez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gerardo Moreno
    • 2
  • Mei Leng
    • 3
  • Dedra Buchwald
    • 4
  • Leo S. Morales
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology and Pain MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Department of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  5. 5.Group Health Research InstituteSeattleUSA
  6. 6.Department of Health ServicesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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