The clinical trial industry has grown into a multi-national, multi-protocol arena, and all players are forced to adapt. In BBK’s latest blog my colleague talks about the important factors needed to execute a successful multinational campaign, but this is only part of the solution. In order for a multinational campaign to truly be effective, the program materials must be adapted as well, ensuring that they have the desired effect in each participating county. As the cultural adaptation and translation processes can be complex and varied, I wanted to address some of the most common questions and misunderstandings that arise.
What is the difference between cultural adaptation and translation?
Translation is the process by which materials are translated to be linguistically accurate based on the target country and language. With cultural adaptation, the source materials are first reviewed by professional in-country linguists for any terms or messaging in the content that may be culturally specific. If there are such instances, the source documents will be appropriately revised to accommodate these cultural nuances. These edits are then reviewed and approved by the sponsor company prior to translation.
At the start of a recruitment campaign, the creative development of campaign materials is vital. This is where the trial is branded; it receives a logo, a tagline, messaging that will be used across materials to effectively communicate the goal of the trial, and the appeal it will have to potential participants. Cultural adaptation is the key to enabling the creative messaging to “translate” across languages and countries, because it specifically analyzes the messaging used to develop the source materials and ensures that it will resonate with the target audience once translation is complete.
What is back translation, and should it be a part of the process?
Back translation is simply the literal translation from the target language back to the source language using little to no adaptation. This is usually put into processes as a quality control step, but what is often misunderstood is that the source materials must match the back translations. This will rarely happen. When adapting materials to work in other countries, the source materials cannot be exactly the same. As I mentioned above, cultural nuances need to be considered along with the voice and tone of the materials. If you take the quality control steps of culturally adapting then translating with reviews by native and/or fluent speakers in the target language, your messaging will be more effective internationally.
Why should I localize my materials for countries that speak the same language?
“It’s all Greek to me.” True? False! Localizing materials that have been translated into a target language is a key part of the translation process. Just as in cultural adaptation, localization incorporates the cultural nuances of the target country but IN the target language. For example, French for France would be the initial translation and it would be taken and localized into French for Canada, which would include cultural nuances that would be relevant in Canada but not in France. This process will ultimately help with budget ROIs from the perspective of the limited cost for localization versus the speed at which regulatory bodies will approve the materials as well as the ultimate efficacy of the messaging, therefore helping the recruitment succeed within that country.