Patients prefer “medical labels” to lay language, study finds
- By: Roger Dobson
GPs need to watch their language when they are diagnosing what's wrong with a patient. Although health professionals are being encouraged to use lay language to improve communication in consultations, patients may actually prefer medical terminology, a new study says.
Patients see a medical label such as gastroenteritis as an assurance that their problem has been taken more seriously, while the equivalent lay label, stomach upset, is seen as implying that patients can take care of themselves, says the study (Family Practice 2003;20:248-53)
In the research the authors carried out a questionnaire survey among 900 consecutive patients attending nine general practices across England. A total of 740 questionnaires were completed, and each patient rated a series of statements involving either a lay or a medical term.
The research, by a team from the Department of General Practice at Guy's, King's College, and St Thomas's Hospitals Schools of Medicine and Dentistry,