Translation and validation of study instruments for cross-cultural research

Gastroenterology. 2004 Jan;126(1 Suppl 1):S124-8. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2003.10.016.


Cross-cultural research often involves physicians, nurses, and other health care providers. In studies of fecal and urinary incontinence, cross-cultural research has been applied to quality-of-life comparisons, and instruments have been translated to foreign languages for use in other countries. This report presents some of the principal methodological issues and problems associated with translating questionnaires for use in cross-cultural research in a manner relevant to clinicians and health care practitioners who are aware that, unless these potential problems are addressed, the results of their research may be suspect. Translation is the most common method of preparing instruments for cross-cultural research and has pitfalls that threaten validity. Some of these problems are difficult to detect and may have a detrimental effect on the study results. Identification and correction of problems can enhance research quality and validity. A method for translation and validation is presented in detail. However, the specific validation method adopted is less important than the recognition that the translation process must be appropriate and the validation process rigorous.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Fecal Incontinence / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence / ethnology*