Translating health status questionnaires and evaluating their quality: the IQOLA Project approach. International Quality of Life Assessment

J Clin Epidemiol. 1998 Nov;51(11):913-23. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(98)00082-1.


This article describes the methods adopted by the International Quality of Life Assessment (IQOLA) project to translate the SF-36 Health Survey. Translation methods included the production of forward and backward translations, use of difficulty and quality ratings, pilot testing, and cross-cultural comparison of the translation work. Experience to date suggests that the SF-36 can be adapted for use in other countries with relatively minor changes to the content of the form, providing support for the use of these translations in multinational clinical trials and other studies. The most difficult items to translate were physical functioning items, which used examples of activities and distances that are not common outside of the United States; items that used colloquial expressions such as pep or blue; and the social functioning items. Quality ratings were uniformly high across countries. While the IQOLA approach to translation and validation was developed for use with the SF-36, it is applicable to other translation efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Developed Countries
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Translating*
  • Translations