Translating questionnaire items for a multi-lingual worker population: The iterative process of translation and cognitive interviews with English-, Spanish-, and Chinese-speaking workers

Authors

  • Kaori Fujishiro PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
    • Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation, and Field Studies (DSHEFS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 4676 Columbia Parkway (R-17), Cincinnati, OH 45226.
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  • Fang Gong PhD,

    1. Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
    2. Department of Sociology, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
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  • Sherry Baron MD,

    1. Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • C. Jeffery Jacobson Jr. PhD,

    1. Department of Anthropology and Family Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • Sheli DeLaney MA,

    1. Education and Information Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • Michael Flynn BA,

    1. Education and Information Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • Donald E. Eggerth PhD

    1. Education and Information Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.

Abstract

Background

The increasing ethnic diversity of the US workforce has created a need for research tools that can be used with multi-lingual worker populations. Developing multi-language questionnaire items is a complex process; however, very little has been documented in the literature.

Methods

Commonly used English items from the Job Content Questionnaire and Quality of Work Life Questionnaire were translated by two interdisciplinary bilingual teams and cognitively tested in interviews with English-, Spanish-, and Chinese-speaking workers.

Results

Common problems across languages mainly concerned response format. Language-specific problems required more conceptual than literal translations. Some items were better understood by non-English speakers than by English speakers. De-centering (i.e., modifying the English original to correspond with translation) produced better understanding for one item.

Conclusions

Translating questionnaire items and achieving equivalence across languages require various kinds of expertise. Backward translation itself is not sufficient. More research efforts should be concentrated on qualitative approaches to developing useful research tools. Am. J. Ind. Med. 53:194–203 2010. Published 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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