Cancer Communication Research Center

Understanding Jargon


Unfortunately, we're not all doctors. As a result, it's unlikely that most people will understand medical jargon when visiting the doctor. It's also unlikely that a person will ask a doctor questions about terminology, especially when the diagnosis is not good.

A recent article points out the change in the U.S. health care system from a provider focus to a patient focus, and that a middle ground needs to be established, meaning physicians need to speak to patients in a way they can understand while also encouraging patients to ask questions. Additionally, the article discusses how physicians need to factor in a patient's emotions and recognize them as part of the dialogue.

The history of cancer treatment has changed over time in very drastic ways (to get the full depth of this, read The Emperor of All Maladies). And as health care continues to move to a patient-centered focus, the communication between provider and patient should change, too. Or alternatively, we should all become doctors.

Michelle Henton
Senior Research Assistant, CCRC

Written by CCRC at 14:46




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