New Guidance for Health System Collaborators

The Operational Interface Committee (OIC) has refined their process for assisting healthcare delivery system employees who want to do quality improvement (QI) and/or research at KPNW. The OIC can assist prospective investigators with identifying an appropriate CHR mentor, determining if the project is research, and navigating the IRB submission process. If you know of any clinicians in the health system who are looking to get involved in research, direct them to the OIC as their first step.

For more information, see the Collaborate with CHR page on the CHR website.

Don't Skimp on Translation Services - Q&A with Nangel Lindberg, PhD, CHR Investigator and KPNW IRB Member

Q. What are some of the limitations of common translation practices?

A. The biggest problems are 1) asking bi-lingual study staff to translate documents when they have no formal training as translators, and 2) when professional translators are used, lack of quality control over the work performed. 

Studies often ask Spanish-speaking staff to do the work of an interpreter or, worse, the work of a translator. This usually happens due to limited resources or when investigators don’t plan for the cost of professional translation services.  This reflects a lack of understanding of the complexities of translation.

Often, Spanish-speaking staff have limited fluency, use grammatically incorrect language (orally and in writing), and are unaware of what we call ‘false cognates,’ words that may sound alike, but which mean different things in two languages ( ‘a billion’ in English is very different from ‘un billón’ is Spanish; ‘deception’ in English and ‘decepción’ in Spanish are completely different things). 

Even when using professional translators, studies tend not to have the work checked for readability.  This is a major problem because a common feature of professional translation into Spanish is a tendency to increase the readability level. While the original English text may be written at a 5th grade level, the translated text is usually written at a high-school or greater level.  Where a common word would do (‘permission’), English-to-Spanish translators will generally choose a much more difficult one (‘acquiescence’).

This becomes a significant problem when materials, particularly those focused on self-care, health promotion, or study consents, are intended for individuals of limited literacy.  Particularly with regard to informed consent, we have to ensure that low-literacy Spanish speakers understand what they are signing.

Q. What are some problems you have seen in Spanish-language study materials?

Even large studies that should have appropriate resources make significant errors when crafting materials in Spanish. In a dietary assessment used in a recent study, the food frequency questionnaire was translated into Spanish using a word (choclo) that in parts of South America means ‘corn.’  For the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, where corn is the staple food, ‘choclo’ is a clog-like shoe, often brandished by mothers at misbehaving children. Needless to say, most individuals did not endorse eating ‘choclo.’

A bad translation or something translated at a reading level that is too high for participants to understand is not meeting our basic requirements.

Q. Are there best practices for translating materials for a Spanish-speaking audience?

Research projects should not use staff members who happen to speak Spanish to translate participant materials. They should hire an experienced professional translator and use a quality control process to ensure that what they’re getting back is in fact the same message they provided in English. 

  • If possible, talk to the translator before the translation work begins and explain that you want the text to have the same tone, readability, and ease of comprehension as the original.  State whether you want the text translated using the familiar (‘tú’) form or the formal (‘usted’) form.
  • Pay a consultant to review or spot-check the translation.
  • Ask a Spanish-speaking volunteer or staff member to review the text and note words or sentences that are hard to understand.
  • Use a readability calculator to get a sense of how accessible the Spanish text is.

Q. What are some of the worst translations you’ve seen?

English-speakers often see them when traveling abroad and find them amusing, but Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. are subjected to these errors all the time. This is how one of my favorite signs translates into English:
“Anonymous divulge conditions uncertain in this call 311 of the siege of the work.”  I think it is trying to say that you can anonymously report unsafe conditions at work by dialing 311.

Policy Updates

A friendly reminder about reporting requirements: as part of the updates to our policies and procedures in October 2018, we revised the reporting timelines for New Information. The main change is that the following events must be reported within 1 business day of being informed:

  • Deaths that are both unanticipated, and possibly related, and
  • Unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential information (potential breach)

All other reportable events should be reported within 5 business days. If you are responsible for reporting study-related information to the IRB, check out NWRC.HRP.071, Prompt Reporting Requirements and NWRC.HRP.112, New Information for the full scoop. Call the RSPO at 503-528-3945 if you have any questions or concerns.

Goodbye, RAMP!  You may have heard that the new Data Transfer Request process in the Data Commitments Tracking System has replaced the RAMP process that used to take place at the time of IRB submission.  We have therefore retired the old RAMP policy and procedure (NWRC.PRIV.05) and updated NWRC.PRIV.04, Data Privacy and Security for Research, to address all privacy and security requirements for accessing, maintaining, and sharing research data.  Print out the table in Appendix A and hang it on your wall.  It’s that good.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Data Commitments system and the new DTR process can be found in this User Guide.  You can also contact with questions.



IRBNet FAQ Makes Rolling Stone ‘Summer Hot 100’ List

Please join me in congratulating the KPNW RSPO in making the storied list. It’s the first time that a non-musical piece of media has won the honor, let alone an FAQ document. Kaija Maggard, RSPO manager said, “I don’t think it’s anything we expected. As a regulatory compliance professional, is it something you dream of? Of course, but you never think it will happen to you.” The magazine called the FAQ, “transcendent…engaging…and just really informative. But that’s just the FAQ. Be prepared to get hit with updated classics like ‘IRBNet Submission Guide’ and the totally new ‘KPNW Research Collaborators Guide’ (feat. Drea Volz). This compendium is sure to be in your heavy rotation this summer.” You can find all the guidance documents in the Guidance Library on our research compliance page and in the ‘Forms and Templates’ section of IRBNet.

Mark's Media Corner

In an effort to bring research ethics and compliance to life, I will be providing recommendations for exerpts from podcasts, news articles, and television that highlight how these topics can pop up in the most unlikely of places. Get psyched for Mark’s Media Corner!

Check out episode #542 of the podcast ‘The Reality Check’, a weekly skeptics podcast that examines stories in media and whether they are covered accurately. A portion of this episode discusses that awkward moment when celebrities run afoul of the FDA by promoting regulated drugs on their social media accounts. Looking at you, Kardashian!

Also, check out our very own IRB Chair, Dr. Ryan Radecki, on the Annals of Emergency Medicine podcast, released monthly. Featuring insightful segments like the aptly titled, “It doesn’t look like older blood is quite as good as newer blood, but it’s certainly better than no blood”. I know what I’m listening to on the way home today. All episodes are available in the archive here.