Language barriers during covid-19 vaccination for ukrainian refugees - the perceptions of healthcare professionals
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University of Bologna Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1413
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 caused a humanitarian crisis, displacing many individuals. COVID-19 vaccination was proposed to Ukrainian refugees arrived in the city of Bologna that had an incomplete vaccination course. To overcome language barriers-related problems, the Local Health Authority provided anamnestic forms in Russian/Ukrainian languages and assured the presence of interpreters at the vaccination centers. This study aims to investigate the perceptions of vaccinators about working with an interpreter in the context of the Ukrainian crisis.

The study consists of a descriptive analysis of the responses to a questionnaire administered to vaccinators involved in the medical history collection of Ukrainian users. The questionnaire collected data relating to personal perceptions on professionals’ experience.

Twenty-four healthcare professionals participated in the survey. 70.8% (n=17) were female. The mean age was 39 (σƒ=14). 91.7% (n=22) declared they spoke a good level of professional English. Only one participant had specific training in working with interpreters during his/her education. Twelve participants (50%) thought that specific training in working with an interpreter should be integrated into medical education. Difficulties noticed sometimes/often/always by the participants were the uncertainty that the user got all the information (79.2%), uncertainty that the interpreter translated the exact words (66.7%) or the correct medical terminology (75,0%). Only 3 (12,5%) respondents always ask the user if he/she has understood everything. Finally, 66.7% (n=16) very/fully agreed in defining the interventions used as adherence facilitators to other doses/vaccinations.

This study highlighted the quasi-total absence of training in working with an interpreter in the healthcare professionals’ curricula. Vaccinators are shown to be unsure about the interpreters’ translation during the medical history collection. The Ukrainian refugees’ COVID-19 vaccination showed that an _ad hoc_ intervention to overcome the language-related problems was perceived as impactful by the majority of the professionals involved.