Guidelines for the Process of Cross-Cultural Adaptation of Self-Report Measures
The cross-cultural adaptation of a health status self-administered questionnaire for use in a new country, culture, and/or language necessitates use of a unique method, to reach equivalence between the original source and target versions of the questionnaire. It is now recognized that if measures are to be used across cultures, the items must not only be translated well linguistically, but also must be adapted culturally to maintain the content validity of the instrument at a conceptual level across different cultures. 6,11–13,15,24 Attention to this level of detail allows increased confidence that the impact of a disease or its treatment is described in a similar manner in multinational trials or outcome evaluations. The term “cross-cultural adaptation” is used to encompass a process that looks at both language (translation) and cultural adaptation issues in the process of preparing a questionnaire for use in another setting.
Cross-cultural adaptations should be considered for several different scenarios. In some cases, this is more obvious than in others. Guillemin et al 11 suggest five different examples of when attention should be paid to this adaptation by comparing the target (where it is going to be used) and source (where it was developed) language and culture. The first scenario is that it is to be used in the same language and culture in which it was developed. No adaptation is necessary. The last scenario is the opposite extreme, the application of a questionnaire in a different culture, language and country—moving the Short Form 36-item questionnaire from the United States (source) to Japan (target) 7 which would necessitate translation and cultural adaptation. The other scenarios are summarized in Table 1 and reflect situations when some translation and/or adaptation is needed.
The guidelines described in this document are based on a review of cross-cultural adaptation in the medical, sociological, and psychological literature. This review led to the description of a thorough adaptation process designed to maximize the attainment of semantic, idiomatic, experiential, and conceptual equivalence between the source and target questionnaires. 13. Further experience in cross-cultural adaptation of generic and disease-specific instruments and alternative strategies driven by different research groups 18 have led to some refinements in methodology since the 1993 publication. 11.
These guidelines serve as a template for the translation and cultural adaptation process. The process involves the adaptation of individual items, the instructions for the questionnaire, and the response options. The text in the next section outlines the methodology suggested (Stages I–V). The subsequent section (Stage VI) presents a suggested appraisal process whereby an advisory committee or the developers review the process and determine whether this is an acceptable translation. Although such a committee or the developers may not be engaged in tracking translated versions of the instrument, this stage has been included in case there is a tracking system. Records of translated versions not only can save considerable time and effort (by using already available questionnaires) but also avoid erroneous comparisons of results across different translated versions.
The process of cross-cultural adaptation tries to produce equivalency between source and target based on content.