Translating Surveys and Other Materials

CAHPS surveys and supplemental items sets are available in English or Spanish. If you need the survey in an additional language, please review the guidelines and recommendations for Translating CAHPS Surveys (PDF, 246 KB).

This document lays out a step-by-step process for producing a translated version of a CAHPS survey using two simultaneous translators and a translation reviewer to ensure the quality and cultural appropriateness of the translated instrument. Appendices include guidelines for selecting a translation team and a sample master table for managing the review of the translations.

The CAHPS grantees developed these guidelines for the translation and cultural adaptation of CAHPS surveys to support users in the U.S. and internationally. The guidelines have been reviewed and tested by various government agencies and private organizations (such as health plans).

General Recommendations

Make It Linguistically Relevant

If you decide to produce your own translation of CAHPS survey materials, it must accurately reflect the content and intent of the English questionnaire. In other words, the meaning of the translated questions should be the same as that of the English questions.

Make It Culturally Relevant

The translation must also make sense from a cultural perspective. Direct the translators to produce colloquial questions and instructions that survey respondents can easily understand and use.

Test It With Non-English Speakers

It helps to view the production of culturally and linguistically appropriate research instruments as a process. Developing an adequate translation is only the first step. Ideally, you should subject the translated instrument to two kinds of testing:

  • Cognitive testing with a small group of representatives of the target population, followed by revisions and additional testing as needed to address any areas of misunderstanding, confusion, or concern.
  • Psychometric analysis to gauge reliability, validity, and equivalence of the instrument in measuring the health needs of various subgroups.

Learn More

Review articles about translating surveys in the CAHPS bibliography.

Pan Y, de la Puente M. Census Bureau Guideline for the Translation of Data Collection Instruments and Supporting Materials: Documentation on how the Guideline Was Developed.  Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau Statistical Research Division; 2005 (August 24). Available at https://www.census.gov/srd/papers/pdf/rsm2005-06.pdf. Accessed 12/8/2016.

Page last reviewed August 2017
Page originally created October 2011
Internet Citation: Translating Surveys and Other Materials. Content last reviewed August 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/surveys-guidance/helpful-resources/translating/index.html