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Medical terms worry more people than lay terms, study finds
Date:12/8/2008

epartment of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. "We don't mean to dismiss any of the recently medicalized conditions we tested as trivial. Rather, because public understanding of these conditions is still in flux, they are an excellent place to examine how different terminology impacts this understanding."

The pattern of results has implications for the patient, researchers found. If a patient is informed that she has gastro esophageal reflux disease, for example, rather than chronic heartburn, she might think she is more ill. An important implication is that patient's understanding of the condition heavily influences how she goes about taking care of her own health.

For established medical conditions, researchers found that it did not make a difference in perception if a lay term was used or if subjects were presented with the medicalized language.

"We can see that there are a number of conditions where the medicalese term has, over the past ten years or so, been really rising in how often it is used, compared to the lay term for the same thing," says Humphreys. "This is particularly important when you have lots of conditions that have recently become medicalized, some of them possibly through the influence of pharmaceutical companies, who want to make you think that you have a disease that will need to be treated with a drug."


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Contact: Michelle Donovan
donovam@mcmaster.ca
905-525-9140
McMaster University
Source:Eurekalert

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