Translating mental health diagnostic and symptom terminology to train health workers and engage patients in cross-cultural, non-English speaking populations


Journal Article

© 2017 The Author(s). Although there are guidelines for transcultural adaptation and validation of psychometric tools, similar resources do not exist for translation of diagnostic and symptom terminology used by health professionals to communicate with one another, their patients, and the public. The issue of translation is particularly salient when working with underserved, non-English speaking populations in high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries. As clinicians, researchers, and educators working in cross-cultural settings, we present four recommendations to avoid common pitfalls in these settings. We demonstrate the need for: (1) harmonization of terminology among clinicians, educators of health professionals, and health policymakers; (2) distinction in terminology used among health professionals and that used for communication with patients, families, and the lay public; (3) linkage of symptom assessment with functional assessment; and (4) establishment of a culture of evaluating communication and terminology for continued improvement.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Acharya, B; Basnet, M; Rimal, P; Citrin, D; Hirachan, S; Swar, S; Thapa, P; Pandit, J; Pokharel, R; Kohrt, B

Published Date

  • October 3, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 11 / 1

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1752-4458

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/s13033-017-0170-2

Citation Source

  • Scopus