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How To Produce Quality Health Translations

Posted on: May 22, 2023 by admin

What Does Health Translation Involve?

Health translation involves translating health information from one language into a foreign language. In Australia, this generally means translating health information from English into other commonly used languages (e.g. Chinese Mandarin, Arabic and Vietnamese) in order to make it accessible to those speakers.  Health translations can come in a wide range of mediums such as fact sheets, brochures, medical guides, informational videos and more.


The Importance of Quality Health Translation

Accuracy is important for all translation projects however, the quality of the translation is particularly important when it comes to health-related materials. The reason for this is health information tends to contain context-specific vocabulary and language meaning that one slight mistranslation can dramatically alter the entire meaning of the text. Also, the medical information is directly related to people’s health and any mistranslations could have serious repercussions. For example, if a medication guide contains an error in describing the dosage of a medication, this could cause serious harm.


How To Translate Health Materials Effectively?

When it comes to translating health materials, there are a few simple steps every translator should take to ensure they are producing the best translation possible.

Consider literacy levels

Though text translation accuracy is important, it is also equally important to ensure that the translated text is understandable from your target audience’s perspective. The medium and audience’s literacy should be taken into account. As some cultural groups have low literacy levels in their native language, video or audio translation may be the most suitable medium. For example, when translating health information on a webpage, you could consider whether the same information could be conveyed in a short informative video that uses spoken dialogue instead of written text.


Plan for text expansion

English is one of the most visually compact languages, which means if you’re translating a written resource into another language, you may need to plan for text expansion. This would require the resource to be redesigned to avoid using a smaller font size as this can result in difficult-to-read text.


Make resources culturally appropriate

Health information can often be sensitive in nature and rooted in the cultural context. You may need to make alterations to the text to make it more culturally appropriate (to avoid causing shock or offence) and relevant (using examples and language that make sense to the reader). For example, a brochure relating to sexual health may need to be altered if the target audience is more conservative. Similarly, when translating a flyer outlining healthy food choices, the translator may need to consider changing some of the examples to include foods that are commonly eaten by the target community. Translators should also make sure the imagery is appropriate and inclusive. For example, ensuring the ethnicity and culture of the target audience are represented in the resource imagery.


Health Document Translation Tips

If you’ve got a health-related text you need to translate, make sure you follow these tips before you begin translating.

Consider if you need to translate

If you’re aiming to communicate information to non-native audiences, it’s important to gather information on the English literacy levels of the community you’re targeting. Some culturally and linguistically diverse communities actually have very high English literacy rates and prefer to consume resources in English rather than their native language. Completing research before you commit to a translation project could save you time and money.


Use a professional

Once you’ve decided to go ahead with a health translation project, it’s absolutely essential you find a professional translator with medical knowledge and a deep understanding of the target audience’s language. Health information is highly sensitive and accuracy is incredibly important, which means regular translators may not be suitable. Contact a reputable translation company such as Speak Your Language to find the right health translator for your project.



If you decide to use a professional translator, you will need an internal checking process to ensure the accuracy of the translation. Depending on the scale of distribution, it may also be worth organising community checking. This process involves distributing the materials to members of the target audience to get feedback on the text’s readability and insight on whether it is culturally appropriate.

Health translation can be a complicated and delicate process that requires a high degree of accuracy as well as careful consideration of the audience’s culture. If you require professional health translation services, contact Speak Your Language today for more information.