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Strengthen the Evidence for Maternal and Child Health Programs

New: MCHbest strategies database for sample ESMs

Evidence Tools
MCHbest. NPM 1: Well-Woman Visit

MCHbest Logo well-woman visit

Strategy. Professionally Trained Medical Interpreters

Approach. Support the development of a training program for medical interpreters.

Source. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's What Works for Health (WWFH) Database

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Overview. Professionally trained medical interpreters provide interpretation services for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) in outpatient and inpatient health care settings, and sometimes also serve informally as cultural liaisons or patient advocates.

Evidence. Scientifically Supported. There is strong evidence that professionally trained medical interpreters improve patient-provider communication (Campbell-Wollscheid 2015, Flores 2005*, Lee 2017*) and increase satisfaction for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP), especially when services are provided in-person or over the telephone (Campbell-Wollscheid 2015, Karliner 2007, Flores 2005*, Bagchi 2011*, Giordano 2007*). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects on health outcomes (Flores 2005*, Giordano 2007*, Karliner 2017*). LEP patients who receive interpretation services from professionally trained medical interpreters are more likely to have preventive screenings. Read more in theĀ WWFH database report. Read more about WWFH's evidence ratings. (*Links to citations can be accessed through the WWFH database).

Target Audience. Systems/Patients.

Outcome. Percent of women, ages 18 through 44, with a preventive medical visit in the past year.

Examples from the Field. Access descriptions of current ESMs that use this strategy directly or intervention components that align with this strategy. You can use these ESMs to see how other Title V agencies are addressing the NPM.

Sample ESMs. Using the approach “Support the development of a training program for medical interpreters,” here are sample ESMs you can use as a model for your own measures using the Results-Based Accountability framework (for suggestions on how to develop programs to support this strategy, see The Role of Title V in Adapting Strategies):

Quadrant 1:
Measuring Quantity of Effort
("What/how much did we do?")

  • Number of interpreters enrolled in training program.

Quadrant 2:
Measuring Quality of Effort
("How well did we do it?")

  • Percent of interpreters who completed training program.

Quadrant 3:
Measuring Quantity of Effect
("Is anyone better off?")

  • Number of women who report increase in use of preventive care services with access to professionally trained medical interpreter.

Quadrant 4:
Measuring Quality of Effect
("How are they better off?")

  • Percent of women who report increase in use of preventive care services with access to professionally trained medical interpreter.

Note. ESMs become stronger as they move from measuring quantity to measuring quality (moving from Quadrants 1 and 3, respectively, to Quadrants 2 and 4) and from measuring effort to measuring effect (moving from Quadrants 1 and 2, respectively, to Quadrants 3 and 4).

Learn More. Read how to create stronger ESMs and how to measure ESM impact more meaningfully through Results-Based Accountability.


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.