;   Medical Translation Insight: Use of TMs in multilingual clinical trials - ForeignExchange Translations

Use of TMs in multilingual clinical trials

Translation memories in multilingual clinical trialsGood translations are a vital part of all global clinical trials. To ensure the highest quality, it makes sense to employ the best tools to maximize their benefits, and no tool offers as quick a pay-back as a translation memory (TM) system.

Informed consent forms (ICFs) are a great example of how TM technology lends itself well to clinical translations. When a trial is planned for a particular geography, and there are a number of sites within the geography, the only changes in the ICFs are often only the doctors’ and clinics’ names and other minor details. This makes the translation of these documents fast and consistent. The TM can “pre-translate”, or populate, the target language document, only leaving the new phrases or fuzzy matches for translation.

Here are some ways clinical trial managers can reap maximum benefit from TM technology:

  • Word source files are ideal for translation and TM use. Therefore, submitting Word files to your translator can cut down on prep, analysis and translation time, as well as reduce error risk. That having been said, very large (e.g., more than 50 pages), graphic-heavy Word files can bog down a TM tool. Consider breaking up large Word documents into smaller "chapter" files for submission to translation.
  • Whenever possible, do not submit Adobe PDF files for translation. PDF files have their benefits. But due to their nature, the text cannot be parsed into RTF easily and therefore any benefit of TM is not available.
  • Re-use content as much as possible. If you can use a previous document as basis for a new one, changing only what is necessary, you will be rewarded with faster, more consistent and cheaper translations. Resist the urge to re-word that paragraph or apply new styles for effect unless it is unavoidable or crucial to the document.
  • Finally, prevent, or minimize, post-translation changes. Changes made in the field by local trial monitors or clinicians, after translations are delivered, will result in lower TM match rates the next time around, since the final documents won’t match what was entered into the TMs during translation. If revisions need to be made, be sure to send the final edited documents to your translator or agency for final analysis and TM updating.
Having said that, there are some clinical documents that tend not to benefits from TM usage (because they contain handwritten text or stored in incompatible formats), including clinical reports, inserted data in CRFs or patient-reported outcomes, and chemical manufacturing control documents that are often scanned.

If you are not yet deploying TMs on your international clinical trials, you are missing out on a big opportunity to save time and reduce cost!

ForeignExchange provides specialized medical translations for clinical trial applications, protocols, informed consents, patient diaries, INDs, patient recruitment, and health economic research - in Chinese and dozens of other languages. Contact us for more information about our clinical translation services.


  1. Drug Regulatory Affairs said...
    Fantastic post.
    Diabetes Drug Development said...
    Thanks for this great post......

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