• nursing practice;
  • clinical tools;
  • translation;
  • ethnicity;
  • race;
  • culture

Background.  The widespread use of clinical tools in nursing practice reflects their usefulness in guiding patient care, evaluating treatment effectiveness and conducting audit. Cultural awareness and the provision of culturally competent care is a high priority for nurses in the United Kingdom (UK), given patterns of increasing ethnic diversity. However, meeting the individual needs of patients can be difficult when language barriers hinder communication. One way to address these difficulties is to translate existing clinical tools.

Aim.  The aim of this paper is to appraise the potential for, and limitations of, translating clinical tools for use in nursing practice.

Discussion.  Drawing on a range of studies from the disciplines of health and social science, this review describes and discusses some key considerations relevant to translating clinical tools in nursing. These considerations include the need to ensure cultural equivalence, lack of familiarity with clinical tool formats in some cultures and its impact on responses, and low literacy levels in some populations.

Conclusion.  Clinical tools provide benefits in identifying patients’ problems, guiding patient care, and evaluating treatments and interventions. Translating these tools can help to bridge the language gap that hinders good communication between nurses and patients. Translated clinical tools can be of acceptable cultural equivalence and validity if high quality translation methodologies are employed, together with an awareness of culturally relevant issues when interpreting the information gained from the tools.