Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Writing and Translating Patient Recruitment Materials: It’s Not Always Easy, but It’s Always Worth It.

Writing and Translating Patient Recruitment Materials: It’s Not Always Easy, but It’s Always Worth It.

Global Content Strategist

 "No, thank you … I am no longer interested in this clinical trial."


Words can make or break the deal in terms of a patient's interest in participating in a clinical trial. High-quality translation and cultural adaptation of patient recruitment materials are crucial. When the translated words don't exactly say what we thought they said, we could be losing potential clinical trial participants, along with their interest.


Here's what tends to happen: Once words appear on paper, the writing team gets excited about the great information provided to the patient. Then, the translators burst the bubble--there are words that are offensive, language that does not translate correctly, and information not applicable to all countries participating in the clinical trial. This is where an experienced translations vendor comes into place.


                                                  Hello _on _Blackboard


It's extremely important to work with established translations companies and make them part of the writing and creative processes. That way the process is more collaborative and there's much less bubble bursting.


So, what should we know aboutwriting and translating for multi-language audiences?


Here are several tips:


Don't be Unintentionally Offensive: Knowing the Difference Between "You" and "Study Participant"


The English language, with its generic "you," uses one term to address people in different situations. However, many languages make a strict distinction between the formal and informal way people communicate. In a study material (e.g., brochure) we need to think of the tone:  Do we want to say "you," or should we go with more formal "study participant"? The translation of "you" may come across as impolite in some languages where it is perceived as "too direct." This is where recommendations of the translations vendor come in handy--they understand the reader and thus our potential study participant.


                                                   Referee _Red _Card



Be Clear About What You Mean: Using Idioms and Multi-meaning Words  


Some idiomatic phrases do not have equivalents in other languages. For example, a sentence like "Having another set of ears to hear what the study staff is saying can be very helpful and reassuring" can be hard to translate. Many languages do not make the connection between "set of ears" being another person to come to the study appointment and listen to the staff. The same is true for puns and word play. It is also good to avoid using words with multiple meanings.


Translations vendors work with people living in the target countries, and these teams are able to provide detailed feedback about local phrases that would make more sense to the reader. Thus, we don't necessarily need to remove all "play" from the English materials, but we do need to pay close attention to how the message will be interpreted by the reader.


                                                      Confused _Woman _Scratches _Head


Be Mindful of Your Tone: Curbing the Enthusiasm and Excitement


In some countries, it is customary to be quite enthusiastic about one's cause when addressing an audience of possible participants. For example, terms like "well done!" or "this is excellent!" appear frequently in some languages. However, it might be better to curb some of this verbal enthusiasm when writing for a foreign audience, as they might not be used to this tone. It might come across as stilted and awkward or perhaps not entirely serious.  


MMG highlights this type of writing to our translations vendors to ensure that all text is culturally appropriate and keeps our reader interested and positive about the cause.


                                                   Excited _Thumbs _Up 



Be Inclusive of Your International Audience: Avoiding U.S. Centricity


What about my country?


We often provide information about medication approvals. This can, however, differ by country and it is good to write in a generic manner.


  • Avoid saying: Five new studies of the medication are now being done that will involve 3,000 people with [condition] in the United States and other countries.
  • Instead say: Five new studies of the medication are now being done that will involve 3,000 people with [condition] worldwide.


                                                      Globe With Magnifying _glass _USA


Writing and translating for the multilingual patient populations is exciting business. It can be a challenge, but it can also be a learning experience. Build positive relationships with various translations vendors to create high-quality materials with appropriate and accurate translations and cultural adaptation should be the goal-the industry's working on it; come onboard.




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