A Five-Step Guide
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
April 25, 2016

This guide from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) introduces a 5-step, stakeholder-based approach to adapting health communication materials. It describes how countries can take any health communication material (produced in English or other languages) and create adapted products that reflect national or local realities, needs, and assets without losing the scientific correctness, core concepts, and messages of the original version. The methodology presented here has been developed, tested, and evaluated through a series of ECDC projects with public health practitioners, agencies and associations in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, and Romania. While this methodology was developed for specific communicable disease-related materials (the guide focuses on increasing childhood vaccination uptake), it can be applied to any communication or training resource in public health and other sectors.

This approach to adaptation and translation is built on social marketing and adaptation principles and calls for the active engagement of potential end-users and other stakeholders throughout the process to ensure quality, comprehension, contextual and cultural appropriateness and applicability of any adapted health communication materials - from handouts for patients to extensive professional guidance. The 5 steps are:

  1. Careful selection of materials and process coordinators
  2. Early review by content and linguistic experts
  3. Translation and quality check
  4. Comprehension testing
  5. Proofreading, design, networking, and evaluation

The questions posed under each step serve as a quick action checklist for process coordinators. Answering these questions can help ensure that key issues related to end-user involvement are considered and addressed (or acknowledged when not addressed). Process coordinators can make use of their professional networks - for example, by asking colleagues to review and comment on documents. Various text boxes and lists delineate practical guidance in carrying out the methodology.

Part 2 describes lessons learned from applying this approach in ECDC-supported projects to pilot and adapt the guide "Let's Talk about Protection: Enhancing Childhood Vaccination Uptake" (see Related Summaries, below). In the case study described here, action learning was the technique used to enable participants to adapt a document originally written in English (the source document being the "Let's Talk" guide and related flipbook). Originally developed using a formative research and consultation process that involved a variety of countries and stakeholder groups, the guide and flipbook became source documents for a series of adaptation projects at country level which aimed to provide customised products for European Union (EU) Member States and gain insight into more effective approaches to adaptation. Lessons learned from these projects are presented here as "tips" related to each of the 5 steps of the adaptation process.

Examples of templates, grids, and reporting forms that could support implementation, management, and monitoring activities related to the adaptation process are presented in the Annexes section. These are grouped according to the relevant steps. All of these tools were developed and used in the adaptation and translation processes for "Let's Talk about Protection."

Number of Pages: 



ECDC website, January 13 2017.

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