On the transcreation, format and actionability of healthcare translations


  • Medha Sengupta UNSW
  • Anthony Pym University of Melbourne
  • Yu Hao University of Melbourne
  • John Hajek University of Melbourne
  • Maria Karidakis University of Melbourne
  • Robyn Woodward-Kron University of Melbourne
  • Riccardo Amorati University of Melbourne




transcreation, multilingual healthcare communication, PEMAT analysis, readability scores, actionability


In public-health crises, members of multilingual communities must be able to access, understand, trust and act upon behaviour-change messaging. The role of translators is therefore critical, not only for the relaying of information but also in the transcreation of texts, understood as adaptation to suit the characteristics of an intended audience. Failure to use transcreation may produce messaging that is culturally inappropriate and thus ineffective. This study analyses healthcare resources created by governments in Australia with a view to identifying formatting and other visual features that would benefit from transcreation. A mixed-method approach combined numerical evaluation of four documents using the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) and a bottom-up thematic analysis of the way the same texts were discussed by 58 members of a broad range of ethnocultural and linguistic groups in Victoria, Australia. The findings point to a need to go beyond the linguistic aspects of the translation and take into account the discourse organisation, layout, images and cultural appropriateness of health messaging. The implications of applying the PEMAT criteria are not only that start texts will become more accessible and better able to facilitate understanding-based trust relations, but also that translators are well placed to participate in the transcreations that may be required in the various target languages.