Assessing linguistic comprehensibility of healthcare translation using the POCA model
Bilingual or translated materials are often the preferred media for diabetes self-management and education amongst the ethnic Chinese in English-speaking countries. This study provides an assessment of a translated diabetes education resource to illustrate the importance of developing culturally and linguistically appropriate health translation resources in multicultural Australia. The original source material ‘Physical Activity’ factsheet in simplified Chinese from Diabetes Australia was chosen due to its popularity among health professionals in Australia. The Patient-Oriented and Culturally Appropriate (POCA) model has been developed as the health translation evaluation framework. Our study illustrates the application of the POCA model in the assessment of the linguistic and cultural suitability of translated Chinese health education resources to effectively motivate changes in health behaviours. The analysis of the translated material pointed to a number of issues regarding the structural and lexical appropriateness and accuracy that hampered the comprehensibility of the translations. Certain discourse features of the translations such as the use of imperative and commanding expressions from the original English texts were likely to disengage the targeted readership, causing potential lack of compliance with the health instructions and translated recommendations. This study combined linguistic study and public health principles to understand and assess the readability and the linguistic and cultural appropriateness of translated materials for specific ethnic populations, in particular Chinese immigrants with low health literacy backgrounds. Our study revealed that the success of multicultural health education largely rested upon the quality of health translation, e.g. accurate clinical information and health instructions and recommendations that can effectively engage with the target readerships, with a view to motivating much-needed behavioural changes to combat the epidemic of chronic, lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes.