Translation and back-translation in qualitative nursing research: methodological review

J Clin Nurs. 2010 Jan;19(1-2):234-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2009.02896.x. Epub 2009 Nov 3.


Aims: To examine the effects of the procedure of translation and the techniques used on the collection and interpretation of original language qualitative data for English presentation.

Background: Nursing and health research increasingly use qualitative research for a broadened perspective on practice and research. In numerous qualitative nursing research papers, data are collected in the original language (example Chinese) and the findings are presented in English. No standardised procedures exist for evaluating the influences of translation on the trustworthiness of qualitative data in nursing research.

Design: Translation and back-translation related literature review was conducted.

Methods: This is a methodological review paper. Discussion. This paper discusses the factors influencing the quality of translation including translator, back-translation, culture and language. Additionally, the translation procedures reported in the literature and the author's experiences are considered.

Conclusions: The translation procedures described in qualitative nursing research can be summarised as: 1 Verbatim transcription of the content in original language, and then analysis of content; 2 Two bilingual translators are necessary to translate the emerged concepts and categories; 3 Back translate is employed; 4 An expert panel committee is involved in reaching final agreement on the translation.

Relevance to clinical practice: Development of the translation procedures could provide qualitative nursing researchers with a guide when collecting data in one language and presenting results in another language. In this way, the necessary rigour in qualitative nursing research could be achieved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Language
  • Nursing Research*
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Taiwan
  • Translating*