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ERIC Number: ED226336
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Pages: 40
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
Problems for the Average Adult in Understanding Medical Language.
Crismore, Avon
Like legal language, medical language is a private language, a separate stratum containing some words specially defined for medical purposes, some existing only in the medical vocabulary, and some adding precision or solemnity. These characteristics often cause a breakdown in patient-doctor communication. Analysis of data obtained from prototype definitions responses to a list of 32 medical terms showed that there was a varying amount of semantic overlap between physician or nurse and patient ranging from almost complete overlap to almost zero overlap for some medical terms. Among some of the findings were the following: (1) medical workers have a more general, more inclusive meaning than do lay people for such medical terms as fracture, colic, diabetes, and arteriosclerosis; (2) many medical terms (hypertension, stroke, obesity, prematurity) are not comprehensible at all or are barely so for certain patients, depending upon their backgrounds and experiences; (3) meanings are a result of beliefs and experiences for both males and females; (4) the causes of a disease or condition are less well understood than are the symptoms and results; and (5) lay people operate on a concrete level in understanding medical meanings. In order to improve matches between physician meanings and nurse/patient meanings, physicians need to understand the impact of presuppositions, intentions, beliefs, attitudes, moods, and encyclopedic knowledge in the interpretive processes. They need to lay bare the misleading assumptions common among themselves and nurses that account for difficulties in comprehending medical terms. (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Research; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A