Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Development of a Translation Standard to Support the Improvement of Health Literacy and Provide Consistent High-Quality Information

Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Development of a Translation Standard to Support the Improvement of Health Literacy and Provide Consistent High-Quality Information

Article excerpt


Information we receive can significantly influence our decision making and health-related behaviours.1 The Australian National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards state that 5 patients and carers will participate in making decisions about their own healthcare, which necessitates their being engaged in their healthcare and treatment decisions.2 In order for healthcare consumers to comprehend and convey their preferences, they first need access to adequate health information that they 10 understand and is relevant to them. Literacy is the ability to understand and use information from various kinds of texts, which may include a range of sources.3 The World Health Organization presents health literacy as a consumer-empowerment strategy, defining it as the 'cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to 5 gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health'.4 A person's health literacy may be significantly worse than general literacy skills because of unfamiliar health vocabulary and concepts. Low health literacy is an Australia-wide issue. Over half of all Australians 10 have inadequate health literacy, with older adults, those with lower levels of education, as well as lower socioeconomic and minority groups being represented in higher numbers.3 Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) 5 backgrounds are one of the 'at-risk' groups for low health literacy, where 33% of people born overseas have adequate or better health literacy compared with 43% of the Australianborn population.3

Recent data from the Victorian Multicultural Commission5 10 indicates that among Victorians:

* 46.8% are either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas

* CALD populations come from more than 200 countries

* CALD populations follow more than 135 religious faiths,

15 * 1.23 million speak a language other than English (LOTE)

The Victorian Government has developed a guide to improve the quality of service delivery and ensure that health services cater appropriately to CALD communities.6 This guide provides overall standards for organisations regarding 20 CALD communities, stating that there should be: 'Evidence of appropriate translations, signage, commonly used consumer/ patient forms, education and audiovisual materials in languages other than English for predominant language groups utilising the service'.6 However there is no guidance regarding how the 25 translations should be undertaken, nor consideration of health literacy.

Translations and theory of translations pertaining to health information

The process of translation is important to ensure that a translation 30 conveys the original meaning, and is fit for the purpose for which it was created. The quality of the translation is impacted by several factors: the original text to be translated, the aptitude of the translator and the matching of the two 'distinct linguistic entities'.7

35 The complexity further increases for translators of health information for Australian migrants, as many host languages often don't have appropriate terminologies in their own language for concepts important in healthcare in this country.8 Therefore translators must often deviate from the original text 40 to describe health concepts rather than using loan words or 'internationalisms' if they are to ensure that the target population can understand the intent. In Australia, the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) is the sole agency that accredits the aforementioned professional groups.9 45 NAATI credentialing aims to provide quality assurance to the clients of translators and interpreters and to give credibility to agencies that employ practitioners who are credentialed appropriately.9

NAATI's requirements of translations are supported by 50 translation theories, where equivalence is emphasised, with a focus on literalness and accuracy. …

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