Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Medical history taking-Psychological aspects, Translators-Psychology, Secondary traumatic stress, Secondary traumatic stress-Risk factors, Secondary traumatic stress-Prevention, Empathy, Professional medical interpreters, Compassion fatigue, Protective and risk factors, Interpersonal Reactivity Index, ProQOL 5, Work environment


The nature and breath of the work of professional medical interpreters routinely exposes them to traumatized patients in both medical and psychiatry settings. The literature suggests that such exposure increases their risk for developing compassion fatigue. The aim of this pilot study was to determine if professional medical interpreters (PMI) are at risk for developing compassion fatigue (CF). Methods. An innovative designed was developed to explore possible risk and protective factors associated with the development of CF. Well-validated measures were employed to assess the presence or absence of compassion fatigue in a cohort of professional medical interpreters working in large metropolitan hospitals in the Northeast. Risk and protective factors were also explored, including: risk exposure, interpersonal reactivity (empathy), support characteristics of the work environment, and personal factors such as age, gender, and work experience. Convenience sampling recruited 26 participants, 15 of whom completed the survey. Findings. Findings align with the extant literature on compassion fatigue among health care workers, indicating that this is an important issue for medical interpreters as well. The unique characteristics involved in the personal and work life of PMIs suggests that they, their employers and colleagues, would benefit from recognizing the risks inherent in these front line jobs. The practice environment for PMIs should be carefully crafted to minimize development of CF. Social work colleagues can play an important role in helping to craft such environments, and in responding to their colleagues.




iv, 67 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 34-36)

Limited Access until August 2017