The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2021 - 23

redesigned or customized for
online use.
From my experience,
patients often tend to
misunderstand the purpose
of the interview. Despite the
availability of consent forms
and other materials that
clearly explain the purpose,
many patients still assume
they are being asked to
provide responses to each
question based on their own
medical condition. To avoid
this misunderstanding, I
always tell the patient at the
beginning that the purpose
of the interview is not to
answer the questions but to
test if they can understand
everything-every sentence,
question, and response
option in the questionnaire.
Some questions during
an interview can also be
sensitive and can make
patients feel embarrassed,
shocked, or upset. When
dealing with sensitive
questions, I often tell
participants: " I know you
might not want to explain
this, but this doesn't ask
about your own symptoms or
conditions. The questionnaire
designer wants to know if
you understand this word,
how you say this in your own
words, and there's no right
or wrong answer.''
Coping with
Vicarious Trauma
Though not all
questionnaires involve
working with people who
suffer from a chronic or a
terminal disease, many do
target those groups. As a
result, interviewers many
experience vicarious trauma,
burnout, compassion fatigue,
or stress from working with
people who suffer long-term
or untreatable diseases.
www.ata-chronicle.online
Several years ago, I contacted
a patient who agreed to
be interviewed when the
translated questionnaire was
ready. When the time came
to schedule the interview, I
learned that he had passed
away. On another occasion,
I asked a young patient after
an interview if he happened
to know anyone with the
same medical condition
who would be willing to be
interviewed. Sadly, he replied
that all the people he knew
with that medical condition
had died.
For those situations,
especially when I first started
conducting interviews, I had
to work very hard to calm
myself, and it usually took
me a few days or even a
week to get back to normal
after hearing a tragic story.
I've since learned that
talking with friends who
have similar jobs, such
as a nurse working in an
oncology center or a medical
interpreter who helps
patients in a hospital, can
help because they understand
better than anyone what my
job entails. Sometimes I still
need to hide myself in some
corner and cry, but I've also
found that taking a walk
in a quiet neighborhood or
sitting in a Buddhist temple
for meditation or prayer,
and even listening to music
can help me get back to
normal. I've also learned
that declining a particularly
challenging assignment or
avoiding conducting too
many cognitive interviews
with chronic patients within
a short period also helps.
But there are also many
positive aspects associated
with conducting cognitive
debriefings with patients
suffering from long-term
illnesses. Talking with
people who are in a less
fortunate situation can
make me appreciate my
well-being, my life, and the
well-being of my family
and friends much more, and
that I shouldn't take them
for granted. Also, many
questionnaires are developed
to collect data that will be
used to improve certain
treatment strategies or
therapies, which in turn will
help improve the quality of
the mental and/or physical
health of a certain group
of patients. Ensuring that
patients understand the
translated questionnaire is
a small contribution I can
make to help ease the pain in
this world.
Final Note
Since COVID-19 hit the
world, freelance translators
might be experiencing
unstable workloads. While
some can stay with their
regular clients and do the
work they've always done,
others need to diversify the
jobs they take on to maintain
an income. One thing I find
interesting in the language
industry is there are always
more opportunities for jobs
than translation per se.
Cognitive debriefing may be
complex and challenging, but
it's a job that involves using
language, culture, and
communication skills, so any
experienced translator will
already have the basic skills
to perform the job well.
Acknowledgement: I dedicate
this in memory of my brotherin-law
who helped me with
many practice interviews for
cognitive debriefings. He passed
away on the day this article
was accepted for publication.
American Translators Association 23
NOTES
1
" Cognitive Debriefing
Explained, https://bit.ly/
cognitive-debriefing.
2
Richards, Anna. " 7
Ways to Master Linguistic
Cognitive Debriefing
Interviews of PatientReported
Outcomes, "
https://bit.ly/Richardsinterviews.
Pham
Hoa
Hiep has
worked as
a translator,
editor
(English>Vietnamese), and
translator trainer for over 15
years in New Zealand, the
U.S., Australia, and Vietnam.
For the past 10 years, he has
mainly translated and edited
life sciences documents
with an emphasis on health
plans, insurance providers,
health care, clinical trials,
and research studies. He
has a BA in English from the
University of Hue, an MA in
applied linguistics from the
University of MassachusettsBoston,
and an EdD in
language education from
the University of Melbourne.
Besides working as a
freelancer, he has taught
courses in applied translation
studies at many universities.
He has published widely
in the fields of translation,
applied linguistics, and
English language teaching.
hiepsuu@gmail.com
https://www.bit.ly/cognitive-debriefing https://www.bit.ly/cognitive-debriefing https://www.bit.ly/Richards-interviews https://www.bit.ly/Richards-interviews http://www.ata-chronicle.online

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