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Mental Health Documentation Translation

Translating medical health documents is part of the  global language services industry that is worth more than $43 billion in 2017 and is expected to increase to $47.5 billion in 2027. Alas, translation is not a straightforward process. Protecting the integrity of mental health documntation in translation has become a major concern for medical device companies and suppliers of translation services to healthcare companies. The main concern is that the integrity of information that is reworded might not reflect the original purpose of the documents. The type of translation method that is employed is an important factor that determines the outcome of the interpreted material. There are several divergent views as to  how mental health documents should be interpreted. One is the traditional back translation technique and the other is the usability method. Deciding which approach works the best is dependent on the target audience and purpose of the material. Pangeanic recently won accreditation to ISO 13485 for medical devices, a much coveted standard for suppliers of language services to the medical device industry.    

Back translation and its benefits

All over the world, racial demographics are changing. A growing and racially diverse population implies that more than one language is spoken. Because of this situation, the need for interpretation and translation services has increased. In the US,  the job outlook for interpreters and translators is estimated to grow to 18% from 2016-2016.  While it is never too late  to learn another tongue, the language barrier might become an impediment for many people to access mental health services missing out on valuable opportunities for diagnosis and treatment. Mental health documents are very specific and require knowledge of the terms used in the field. Using back translation for papers that pertain to mental health assures their integrity so that the exact meaning is conveyed. For researchers and health care workers including physicians, nurses, psychologists and support staff in the medical field, back-translated documents are manageable and understandable. However, for a patient, getting a highly technical document translated from a source language into the target language might not be comprehensible. Technical terms are difficult to understand and have little to no meaning to them.

Translating documents based on usability

Bilingual doctors and health care workers are not always available to interpret for patients. In situations where patients speak a different language, informational materials on mental health is the closest thing to direct translation.  The use of the skopos theory in translation works by focusing on the source text and its purpose. Its main advantage is that it conveys the exact purpose of the original text in the way that users would want to use it. In this case, patients would find it easy to digest mental health materials if they were translated with them in mind.

As an example, mental health pamphlets can be interpreted in an understandable manner supplemented by infographics. Documents to be filled in requesting for tests and exams can also benefit from this type of translation. Translated mental health documents are useful when the end users are identified. The use of several techniques to translate documents offers advantages to different audiences. For patients who are not able to speak in another language other than their own, getting documents that serve their purpose and for which they are supposed to be used is the better option.


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