Communication & Medicine, Vol 15, No 2 (2018)

Triadic medical interaction with a bilingual doctor

Louisa Willoughby, Marisa Cordella, Simon Musgrave, Julie Bradshaw
Issued Date: 14 Mar 2020


While studies of interpreted medical interactions are common, there is relatively little research on bilingual doctors who choose to consult in the migrant patients’ first language. This paper presents a case study of one such language concordant consultation conducted in Italian in the outpatients’ clinic of an Australian hospital, a triadic encounter where the patient was accompanied by her Italian-speaking daughter. In this consultation English medical terms were sometimes introduced but Italian was the main language of the consultation. The communication between all parties was notably very smooth and we reflect on reasons for this. These include the commitment of all parties to using Italian and the proactive role played by the patient’s Italian-speaking daughter in supporting and occasionally challenging her mother’s account of affairs. We conclude by reflecting on issues that bilingual doctors need to be aware of before undertaking to consult in more than one language.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.31956


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