Course review: Linguistic validation of patient-reported outcome instruments


In January 2017, I participated in the eCPD video course on Linguistic validation of patient-reported outcome instruments. The course was divided into three videos, the first two of about fifty minutes each, and the third of about forty minutes. Each video was accompanied by a downloadable handout, which was a pdf file of the presentation used onscreen in that video. The material was presented in a logical manner, which was clearly introduced at the beginning and easy to follow as the course progressed.


I chose this course because I have been involved in translating these types of documents for a couple of years now. Although I am already quite familiar with the texts, processes, and translation challenges related to this particular domain, I wanted to expand my knowledge on the other activities involved in the whole process, since translation of the instrument is only one small part of it. I also wanted to sharpen my skills and deepen my knowledge in the areas I did have some prior experience with.


The first video was an introduction to patient reported outcome measurement. It comprised a detailed investigation of everything that goes into the entire process, with a solid, clear explanation of all the important factors such as: why PROs are important; how they are incorporated into clinical trials; how they are developed; how and why they are formatted and developed in such a particular, standardised way; the different types of PROs; and a short explanation of how the data is processed. Overall, I found this video to be the most informative and interesting of the three due to the extent of the information offered and the scope of examples and explanation given for each point mentioned.


The second video explored the process of linguistic validation, covering points relating to the challenges of developing PROs effectively for translation, the methodology of linguistic validation including explanations of each stage, and the different approaches to translation. Some excellent case studies were presented in this video, which I felt were extremely illuminating in the way they drew attention to some of the subtle problems that can come up during the linguistic validation process, and that translators have to deal with. In this video I felt that the presenter did not go into as much detail with each point as in the previous video, and I would have liked to have asked some questions. Since the course was not live, I was unable to do this.


The third video focused on cognitive interviews. For me personally this was the least relevant video, as I have not been involved in conducting these before. However, I could see the value in the tips given by the presenter on how to get the most out of cognitive interviewing, and even for those of us not involved with this part of the process, several of the presenter’s insights about the importance of cognitive interviewing were enlightening. Its significance was also clearly illustrated by the case study given at the end. I find that I now have a greater appreciation of all that goes into the process before I receive a text to translate. In this video there was also a useful section covering translatability issues, which I found very beneficial as I have had personal experience with many of these problems, and feel sure I will refer to this list as part of my own translation quality control checks in the future. I would have liked to have looked into these points in more depth, as I felt they were particularly pertinent for translators.


It was quite an expensive course (£100) compared with others available, but there were three separate videos, as opposed to just one. As for improvements, it would have been helpful to have received a few more ideas about where to go next, such as useful websites or books for further reading, or possible complementary courses offered by eCPD. I think the presenter could have gone into a little more depth on aspects of particular relevance to translators; although the section on possible translation errors was quite comprehensive, it did feel a little rushed. The quality of the audio could have been slightly better as there were several irritating stoppages (especially in the second video), although they weren’t long enough to miss anything very important. There were moments when I struggled to follow what the presenter was saying, as she spoke rapidly and had quite a strong accent. The presentation of the course might have been a little more interesting – it would have been nice to have actually seen the presenter, instead of just the slides.


Overall I found the course to be interesting and valuable. Despite being somebody with a moderate amount of experience in the topic area, I still felt the course was very worthwhile, and I certainly gained a better awareness of the entire process and the role I play as a translator within the greater context of these types of texts.


By Amy Gulvin



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