Cultural adaptation

cultural adaptationCultural adaptation is playing an ever more important role in recruiting patients for clinical trials.

Most clinical trials are almost always conducted globally now in several countries or on several continents. This is why the subject of culture adaptation is becoming increasingly important.

However, what is meant with this term is not only the translation of texts. Rather, what is imperative is a review and adjustment of images, phrases or styles of texts, so that the message of the respective trial can also be accepted and understood by the corresponding target group of patients. 

Only when a specific message reaches the appropriate patients can they decide on their participation in the trial. If the message fails to reach the target group or only reaches it indirectly, this will lead to delays in the clinical trial.

It is therefore not just about translating a text, but rather about considering various factors that may seem insignificant at first glance, but in the end could decide on whether a patient feels that the message is addressed to him/her or not.

To take an example of cultural adaptation from the German-speaking world, one should, for example, take care not to use certain regional expressions anywhere. Even the general German greeting "good day" is not common in Bavaria, for example, and a Swabian dialect would seem very strange for a radio spot in Hamburg!

The message is also determined by font and image selection, as well as by colour and placement etc. One look at market and media psychology confirms this and other examples.

The patient must get a feeling of self-recognition, and though this first moment of recognition takes place unconsciously and extremely fast, it is nevertheless crucial for whether a trial is perceived as trustworthy or not at that moment.

In addition, compliance with the regulations of each country must be ensured when designing the message, which, especially in Europe, represents a particular challenge.

Because each clinical trial is already extremely expensive for a sponsor, only a successful cultural adaptation can ensure that as many patients as possible feel addressed by the message as quickly and cost effectively as possible, so that in the next step they will get further information about the trial. After all, any delay of a clinical trial often entails enormous additional follow-up costs for the sponsor.

Autor: Cécilia Mesa, 13.02.2014