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Translating a Telephone Survey on Alcohol and Drug Use: Processes and Lessons Learned

Roberta L. Sangster


This paper discusses the many aspects of concern that confront a researcher when translating a survey into another language. It details the steps within the translation process: recruiting and training translators, first translation and back-translation, pretesting the translated questionnaires, preparing the final questionnaire for use with a computer assisted telephone interview (CATI) system, and implementation of surveys. The study comes from research being conducted by the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center, at Washington State University for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The drug and alcohol assessment survey was translated into six languages: Cambodian (Khmer), Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, and Spanish.