Patient Surveys: Diversity in Medical Translation


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$20 (Free with the Plus package)



67 minutes

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will be able:

To adapt to the cultural and linguistic conventions of the target community.
To identify gaps in source-target correspondence and choose an appropriate in a medical context.
To apply free translation strategies to translate cultural references, idioms, and micro-level translation problems to bridge the linguistic divide.


Do you want to learn how to translate patient surveys for multilingual medical studies? What are the main problems in these surveys and the translation work arounds? What will my client expect from me?
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Most patient surveys are developed for a homogeneous Western target population and fail to take into consideration the diverse cultures, languages and geographies of the actual patient pool. Yet, such surveys remain one of the cornerstones for evaluating patient experience and for patient-provider communication. Some situations and activities in patient questionnaires are not relevant or equivalent across cultures (back pain caused by shoveling snow, walking several blocks, doing housework). In other cases, terms need to be adapted for specific locales (“saubermachen” in Germany, but “putzen” in Switzerland for “cleaning”). These linguistic and cultural gaps are reason for serious concern and translators must learn to use cross-cultural adaptation to guarantee both conceptual and semantic equivalence to ensure the reliability and validity of patient-reported outcomes.

We will examine common problems that arise during the translation, back-translation and validation steps and tackle “untranslatable” concepts, idiomatic expressions and metaphors and degrees of linguistic deficiency and abstraction.

Upload Date

October 25, 2014

Trainer Bio

Erin Lyons - Erin M. Lyons is a full-time French to English and Italian to English translator, medical writer, and consultant and the Owner and President of BiomedNouvelle. Her primary areas of focus include clinical research, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and cosmetic products and she has split her professional career between Europe and the U.S. She has a BA in Romance Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago and an MA in Italian and French Translation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She has presented at several ATA Annual Conferences, as well as at the 2011 World Congress of the International Federation of Translators and the 2013 International Conference (Porto) and 6th Annual Congress and Training in France (Biarritz).

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