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Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Development of a Translation Standard to support the improvement of health literacy and provide consistent high-quality information

Jaklina Michael A C , Tracy Aylen B and Rajna Ogrin A
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A Royal District Nursing Service, 31 Alma Road, St. Kilda, Vic. 3182, Australia.

B Royal District Nursing Service, Sunshine Site, 176–190 Furlong Road, St. Albans, Vic. 3021, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Health Review 37(4) 547-551
Submitted: 23 April 2013  Accepted: 14 July 2013   Published: 10 September 2013


Australia has a high number of people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds whose primary language is not English. CALD population groups have comparatively lower levels of education and health literacy, and poorer health outcomes compared with the Australian-born population. The delivery of consumer health information to people from CALD backgrounds usually includes the use of translated resources. Unfortunately, the quality of translated resources available on health issues is highly variable and may impact efforts to address the disparities in health outcomes. Currently applied guides to translation focus on accuracy and literalness of the translation; however, for health translations, conveying meaning and incorporating culturally relevant information is essential. Minimum standards for developing translated resources are needed to provide an indication of quality for end users, including healthcare providers, the client and carer. This paper describes the development of a Translation Standard, led by a community nursing organisation in collaboration and consultation with CALD community members and peak community organisations in Melbourne, Australia. The Translation Standard includes 10 components that have been identified as necessary to ensure a minimum standard of translation that is of high quality and caters to the health literacy levels of the target audience.

What is known about the topic? There are many people from CALD backgrounds who have worse health outcomes than people who are Australian born. There is a gap in guidance to health professionals on how to develop high-quality translations of consumer health information that consider culture and health literacy. Higher-quality translations are needed to better inform CALD groups about their health.

What does this paper add? The description of a new Translation Standard to guide the development of culturally relevant consumer health translations, considering the cultural needs and health literacy level of the target audience.

What are the implications for practitioners? The Translation Standard provides assurance to practitioners that any translation that has followed this Standard is of high quality and increases the likelihood that the target audience will find the information relevant and understandable. The Translation Standard can assist consumers to make more informed choices and decisions about their health. Future translations would benefit by using such a guide.


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