Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


Genetic Counseling

First Advisor

Victoria Vincent


Individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) face many challenges in obtaining equal access to health care. Professional medical interpreters possess training and skills that allow them to facilitate communication for those with LEP, but they may not have specialty-specific knowledge in the various medical settings in which they are asked to interpret. In the current study, medical interpreters from the American Translators Association (ATA), the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), and the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) were invited to complete an anonymous survey to assess their training in genetics and genetic counseling and their knowledge of the key terminology and principles of genetic counseling. Of those invited, 142 completed the survey. The study participants demonstrated knowledge of genetic terminology and the medical aspects of genetic counseling, but seemed to lack a full understanding of the principles of genetic counseling practice. Only 59% of respondents knew that genetic counselors provide emotional support, and only 62% understood that addressing psychosocial issues is a key aspect of genetic counseling. Having had genetic counseling education in their medical interpreter training and having previous experience in interpreting for genetic counseling were associated with higher knowledge scores. The findings of this study suggest that medical interpreters may benefit from additional education about genetic counseling, including specific terminology and information about the emotional and support aspects of genetic counseling practice. This information may help interpreters anticipate and prepare for both the genetics content and the psychosocial aspects of genetic counseling sessions. The feedback from respondents also reflected a desire for a pre-session briefing on the counseling scenario, the need for adequate time allowances for the session, and the utility of visual aids in presenting information.