Remote Interpreting in Healthcare Settings

by Esther de Boe (Author)
Monographs XVIII, 272 Pages


The increasing practice of remote interpreting (RI) by telephone and video link has profoundly changed the ways in which interpreting services are being delivered. Although clinical research on RI has reported positive results, empirical research in other settings, such as legal contexts, has demonstrated that RI can affect the quality of interpreter-mediated communication.
This book investigates the possible effects of using RI on the quality of healthcare interpreting. Central to the research design are three series of simulated interpreter-mediated doctor–patient encounters, each involving a different interpreter and using three different interpreting methods: face-to-face interpreting, telephone interpreting and video interpreting. These sessions were video recorded, transcribed and annotated according to categories previously established in interpreting studies. First, quantitative analyses of miscommunication and interaction management were carried out to identify potential relationships between message equivalence issues and interactional issues and to establish the possible influence of environmental and technological factors. These data were submitted to comparative, qualitative analyses, which were triangulated with the findings from the participants’ perceptions, collected by means of thirty post-simulation interviews. The insights generated by this work are highly relevant for all users of RI to anticipate and overcome communication problems.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Transcription Key
  • Part I Remote Interpreting
  • Chapter 1 Introduction
  • 1.1 Interpreting and technology
  • 1.2 Methods of remote interpreting
  • 1.3 The advance of remote interpreting
  • 1.4 Research design
  • 1.5 Structure of this book
  • Chapter 2 What Do We Know about RI?
  • 2.1 Remote conference interpreting
  • 2.2 Remote dialogue interpreting
  • 2.3 Research issues and caveats
  • Part II Theoretical Framework
  • Chapter 3 Investigating Quality
  • 3.1 Interpreting quality
  • 3.2 Remote healthcare interpreting: A holistic approach
  • Chapter 4 Methodology
  • 4.1 General outline and research questions
  • 4.2 Data collection
  • 4.3 Annotation
  • 4.4 Analysis
  • Part III Results
  • Chapter 5 Miscommunication and Interaction Management
  • 5.1 Message equivalence issues
  • 5.2 Interactional issues
  • 5.3 Interaction management
  • 5.4 Concurrence
  • Chapter 6 Challenges to Communication Quality
  • 6.1 Series 1
  • 6.2 Series 2
  • 6.3 Series 3
  • Chapter 7 Participant Perceptions
  • 7.1 Post-simulation interviews
  • 7.2 Retrospective interviews
  • Chapter 8 Conclusion and Discussion
  • 8.1 Summary research objectives and questions
  • 8.2 Miscommunication
  • 8.3 Interaction management
  • 8.4 Main communication challenges in RI
  • 8.5 Implications for interpreter practice and training
  • 8.6 Limitations of this study
  • 8.7 Suggestions for future research
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series Index

←xii | xiii→


Writing this book has been a highly instructive, challenging and enjoyable experience, for which I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in various ways over the past few years.

First of all, I would like to thank Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, in particular, Professor Jorge Díaz-Cintas, for providing me with the wonderful opportunity to publish this book, and Dr Laurel Plapp for her kind support during the editing process.

I would also like to thank the University of Antwerp’s Department of Applied Linguistics, Translation & Interpreting, in particular the French section – Prof. Katrien Lievois, Prof. Isabelle Robert and Prof. Kris Peeters – for their support in starting a PhD.

I am also extremely grateful to my dear PhD advisors from the University of Antwerp – Prof. Emerita Aline Remael and Prof. Jim Ureel – for the many hours they spent on reading my work and for always providing me with constructive feedback and kind support. For her specialized advice, I would also very much like to thank my PhD advisor from the University of Surrey, Prof. Sabine Braun.

I greatly appreciated the help from all the participants in the simulations, who have been indispensable in collecting the data for this research: the three interpreters, who were brave enough to expose themselves to the critical analyses of their performances, and the simulated patients. I am also immensely grateful to Dr Irene van der Avoort, who was willing to volunteer as a gynaecologist in all nine simulations, and to Dr Jan van der Avoort, for his professional advice on the gynaecological themes.

Lastly, I would especially like to thank my beloved parents, my brother and sister and their partners, as well as my friends, who all provided such great support along the way and were always there for me. Special thanks go to my loving partner, Kris, for his infinite words of encouragement, his patience and all his love. And last but not least, I would like to thank my daughter Anaïs, my little ray of sunshine, whose smiles, hugs and laughter bring me so much happiness.

←xvi | xvii→

Transcription Key

Transcription conventions


Turn number








issues at the level of message equivalence and interaction discussed in the analysis are marked in bold

Bold +​ underscore

overlapping speech; the overlapping utterances are aligned vertically, e.g.:

(D) What do you mean exactly?

(I)         What do you mean exactly?


Extralinguistic information, e.g. [laugh], [French]


Participant utterance, e.g., [that’s right] or short audible expression, e.g., [hm m] during another participant’s turn


Non-floor taking turn by a participant that occurs within another participant’s turn


Pause length, values between short (.) and longer (..) (…)


A less relevant part of the excerpt has been omitted to avoid unnecessarily long examples


Unfinished phrase

←2 | 3→

Chapter 1


This chapter situates the topic under investigation – remote interpreting (RI) – in a broader context by providing background information on the use of technology in the field of interpreting (Section 1.1) and types of RI methods (Section 1.2). It also discusses reasons for the growing use of RI in today’s society, as well as the outcomes of previous RI research, demonstrating the need for the current research (Section 1.3). Subsequently, the design of this research will be outlined (Section 1.4), as well as the structure of this book (Section 1.5).

1.1 Interpreting and technology

In only a relatively short span of time, technology has profoundly affected the way we communicate. Especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the use of communication technology has boomed. However, even before the worldwide health crisis, technological developments had already started to have a significant impact on the fields of translation and interpreting and will continue to do so exponentially. For interpreting, Fantinuoli (2018: 2–3) distinguishes three major technological breakthroughs. The first one was the introduction of wired systems for speech transmission, allowing for simultaneous interpreting (SI). This technology enabled interpreters to render translations of speeches at the same time as speakers delivered them. Given that before that time, interpreting was carried out consecutively, that is, after speakers had (partly) finished their speeches, the introduction of SI produced massive time savings. The second breakthrough was the arrival of the internet, ←3 | 4→which all of a sudden provided interpreters with access to vast sources of information. This hugely facilitated the ways in which interpreters could prepare for assignments and make use of resources during assignments. As a third breakthrough, Fantinuoli (2018) mentions the introduction of interpreting-related technologies, that is, computer-assisted interpreting (CAI), machine interpreting (MI) and remote interpreting (RI). These technologies constitute a “technological turn” in interpreting, since they have the potential of radically transforming the interpreting profession (ibid.: 3). Whereas CAI is supposed to facilitate the interpreting task and MI potentially attempts to replace the human interpreter, RI technology changes the ways in which interpreting services are delivered. Before elaborating on the rise of RI and its impact, I will first clarify some of the key concepts related to its different constellations.

1.2 Methods of remote interpreting

Traditionally, interpreting services were delivered exclusively by means of face-to-face interpreting (F2FI; also called “in-person”, “onsite” or “traditional” interpreting). However, as discussed in the previous section, contemporary communication channels allow for various methods of RI (also called “distance interpreting”), carried out by means of telephone (telephone interpreting; TI) or video link (video interpreting; VI).

To limit the scope of the rapidly expanding and heterogeneous field of research on RI, the overview of RI constellations provided here is restricted to spoken language, interpersonal interpreter-mediated communication (as opposed to mass communication, such as press conferences). Interpersonal interpreting is characterized by a direct relationship between the participants (Braun, 2006: 3) and can be divided into “monologic” and “dialogue” interpreting (Pöchhacker, 2004: 16). In monologic constellations, the primary participants are the speakers and their audiences (e.g. conference situations, formal meetings or debates with multilingual teams of interpreters), and interpreters usually work (in a booth) from their ←4 | 5→B- or C-language into their A-language, most frequently in the simultaneous mode (Braun, 2006: 3). By contrast, dialogue interpreting (DI), the context under investigation in this research, is considered a “three-party interaction” (Anderson, 1976/2002), with an interpreter assuming the pivotal, mediating role between two clients (Pöchhacker, 2004: 16). In such environments, the interpreter generally works in both language directions and in consecutive or (whispered) simultaneous mode (Braun, 2006: 3).


XVIII, 272
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (December)
remote interpreting telephone interpreting video interpreting healthcare interpreting Remote Interpreting in Healthcare Settings Esther de Boe
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2023. XVIII, 272 pp., 5 fig. col., 1 fig. b/w, 19 tables.

Biographical notes

Esther de Boe (Author)

Esther de Boe holds a PhD in Translation Studies, a European Master of Conference Interpreting, an MA in Translation and an MA in Liberal Arts. As a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, she teaches interpreting studies, remote interpreting, consecutive and simultaneous interpreting French-Dutch and interpreting skills. She publishes especially on technology-mediated communication, specifically in settings involving dialogue interpreting. She is also a board member of the European Network for Public Service Interpreting and Translation (ENPSIT) and previously worked as a sworn interpreter in the Netherlands.


Title: Remote Interpreting in Healthcare Settings
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
292 pages