Why are multilingual clinical trials necessary?

The United States is a melting pot. People from different backgrounds have brought pieces of their own cultures to the nation to create today's society. The diversity that is dominant throughout the country influences the decisions that many people make in various aspects of life, so why should it be any different when it comes to health care? While English may be the dominant language in the U.S., it isn't the only one spoken among the masses. To fully engage patients and get accurate results from scientific trials, clinical research organizations and pharmaceutical companies need to take a multilingual approach.

Language barriers may affect trial outcomes
According to the American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 381 non-English languages are spoken in the nation. They can be divided into four groups: Spanish, other Indo-European languages, Asian and Pacific Island languages, and all other languages. With myriad languages, it only makes sense that more services would be offered in a variety of formats.

"Approximately 381 non-English languages are spoken in the U.S."

When clinical trials don't cater to people with diverse languages, CROs won't get the results they desire. There can be communication barriers between doctors, researchers and participants, and different cultures could call for specific manners and customs, Global Language Solutions explained. A person from one background may have different concerns and priorities than someone from another culture, and this could lead to misunderstandings.

Patient education is key to the success of clinical trials. While it may seem easy for people to follow the instructions, it won't be as simple to receive the feedback CROs need when participants don't understand what they should be monitoring and why, according to the source. People cannot provide the information clinicians require if they don't know what they should be looking for. Poor translations may also result in words or phrases becoming other ones, such as confusion between inflammation and infection. However, conducting trials in people's native languages will ensure health literacy, reduce errors and improve outcomes.

Trial participants require diverse platforms and languages
Multilingual clinical testing is only part one of conducting fair tests. To help with patient recruitment and pharma marketing, the information should also be presented in a format current or potential participants can understand, PMLive explained. Clinicians conduct trials that require people of all ages, genders and cultures to come together to study a variety of conditions and treatments. However, not all of these participants will use the same platforms to gain information. They need methods that cater to their specific needs. This could include implementing technology into the sessions instead of only using paper diaries or it may require multimedia files and documents to be translated into participants' native languages. Clinicians may also need to advertise on different platforms, from newspapers to the Internet, to reach the largest audience.

Of course, when it comes to conducting the trials, the details also need to be displayed in formats participants will understand. This doesn't just mean the Internet or the advertisements. It also involves using social cues and cultural norms, Global Language Solutions claimed. Clinicians must know how to communicate with people in multiple ways and how to go about obtaining consent. Some cultures may require CROs to gain approval from family members before talking to the would-be participant. Whether it's a global or local study, researchers must know how to approach and communicate with qualified people to ensure everyone knows what they're signing up for and why.

People come from different cultures, so they require clinical trials that cater to their needs.People come from different cultures, so they require clinical trials that cater to their needs.

The World Health Organization has partnered with the James Lind Library, which is dedicated to providing evidence of fair tests throughout history, to guarantee just that. The organization has realized that giving unfair advantages to one group over another interferes with the quality and accuracy of medicine. The practice may cause errors, which, in some cases, can be fatal, according to the WHO. The library contains documents, such as studies, books and essays, which offer explanations for the necessity of equal opportunities in health care, from around the world. The library's officials are also working to translate the texts into various languages so that all academics and medical professionals have access to the same information.

The world is full of different languages and cultures, and many of them are represented in the U.S. If CROs and pharma companies want the best results, they will have to consider how to appeal to all of them.