Dec 19, 2008 | 4
Hey, doc. Watch what you say. Sticks and stones may break patients' bones but it turns out words – your words – may hurt them, too. A new study shows that physicians may unnecessarily frighten patients by using technical jargon instead of layman's terms for certain types of medical conditions, making them sound a lot worse than they really are. Some examples:“androgenic alopecia” instead of male pattern baldness or “myalgic encephalopathy” in place of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Researchers at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario report in the online journal PLoS One that 52 undergraduate students in a study considered disorders described in “medicalese” to be more serious and rare than when they were cast in simple terms. The technical talk proved confusing only for conditions (male pattern baldness, for one) that were not thought of as diseases until relatively recently.
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