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Translating one million words into two languages: process approach and lessons learnt from the translation of a comprehensive international guideline database.

Date and Location




Saturday 21 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Stijn Van de Velde

Contact person

Stijn Van de Velde
Abstract text
Background: A Belgian national electronic point-of-care information service was initiated in September 2011 to optimise quality of care by promoting evidence-based decision-making. All Belgian healthcare professionals get free access to a comprehensive international database of clinical practice guidelines, in addition to the national guidelines. Objectives: Translating a set of 938 concise international clinical practice guidelines from English to Dutch and French. Methods: The translation process was set up by a broker company for scientific information, an academic institution of Applied Language Studies and the editors of the national point-of-care information service. In a first step, the translation software SDL Trados Studio ( was used. This program combines machine translation with a translation memory database, as well as a terminology management system to ensure the consistent use of terms. This first translation was post-edited by human translators, verified by medical proofreaders and approved by validators. This working process was written down in Business Process Modelling Notation with the Open Source software Bizagi. The process was coordinated in a Microsoft Sharepoint work flow and task list. Results: The total word count of the international guidelines database was the equivalent of nearly one million words . It took 15 months to undertake this translation project. Per language 2,000 translation hours, 500 proofread hours and 200 validation hours were needed. The validated versions of the translated guidelines were re-entered in the translation memory database, which will improve the quality of the translation when future updates of the international guidelines have to be translated. Conclusions: Translating a comprehensive set of clinical practice guidelines presented a huge challenge. Details on the working process, lessons learnt and future directions for the updating process will be presented during the conference.