Lost in Translation – understanding cultural and linguistic differences for successful adherence programmes

June 2017


We love the movie ‘Lost in Translation’ with Bill Murray, it really captures how things can go wrong and easily be misunderstood with differences in culture and language.

Running adherence programmes internationally requires a deep understanding of the role of culture and language. Cultural and language differences have a direct impact on how successful an adherence program will be. It is hard to be aware of every single aspect of each country’s culture from afar. That’s why we really do take this factor into account and have an international team in place to create effective programs efficiently.

It is good to remind ourselves that in life, communication is key to success. Being aware of cultural backgrounds is key to the adoption and use of programmes. Direct translation rarely effectively translates all intended meaning. This is also why we conduct research, because customer needs and demands, decision making, and social role views all varies by culture, and to understand the exact words and meaning ascribed to those words in the language and context the program will be
delivered.

We have yet to find a better way than using people who are native speakers of the language, have been immersed in the culture and are trained in the underpinning psychological constructs.