Communication during radiation therapy education sessions: The role of medical jargon and emotional support in clarifying patient confusion

Lena Schnitzler, Sian K. Smith, Heather L. Shepherd, Joanne Shaw, Skye Dong, Delesha M. Carpenter, Frances Nguyen, Haryana M. Dhillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 8 Citations

Abstract

Objective Radiation oncology consultations involve explanation of complex technical concepts using medical jargon. This study aimed to: analyse types and frequency of medical jargon that radiation therapists (RTs) use during education sessions; identify how patients seek clarification from RTs; and, explore RTs communication strategies. Methods Education sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed. Medical jargon was analysed using MaxDictio (a vocabulary analysis programme). A distinction was made between specialised (specialised terms used in RT or cancer) and contextual jargon (common everyday words with a different meaning in RT). Qualitative data were analysed using Framework analysis. Results Fifty-eight patients and 10 RTs participated. Contextual treatment jargon were the most frequently used jargon (32.2%) along with general medical terms (34.6%). Patients appeared uncertain about the number of treatments, side effects, and the risks of radiation. Patients sought clarification by asking RTs to explain or repeat information. RTs replaced jargon with a simpler word, used everyday analogies, and diagrams. Conclusion Use of medical jargon is common in RT education sessions. RTs used different jargon types to varying degrees, but contextual jargon dominated. Practice implications Training RTs how to tailor information to enhance patients’ understanding would be beneficial. Future research exploring medical jargon used in other (non-) oncology settings is required.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages112-120
Number of pages9
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Volume100
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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Confusion
Radiotherapy
Communication
Radiation
Education
Radiation Oncology
Vocabulary
Radiation Effects
Biomedical Research
Referral and Consultation

Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Communication
  • Health literacy
  • Medical jargon
  • Radiation therapist
  • Radiation therapy
  • Radiation therapy education sessions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Communication during radiation therapy education sessions : The role of medical jargon and emotional support in clarifying patient confusion. / Schnitzler, Lena; Smith, Sian K.; Shepherd, Heather L.; Shaw, Joanne; Dong, Skye; Carpenter, Delesha M.; Nguyen, Frances; Dhillon, Haryana M.

In: Patient Education and Counseling, Vol. 100, No. 1, 01.01.2017, p. 112-120.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Schnitzler, Lena ; Smith, Sian K. ; Shepherd, Heather L. ; Shaw, Joanne ; Dong, Skye ; Carpenter, Delesha M. ; Nguyen, Frances ; Dhillon, Haryana M./ Communication during radiation therapy education sessions : The role of medical jargon and emotional support in clarifying patient confusion. In: Patient Education and Counseling. 2017 ; Vol. 100, No. 1. pp. 112-120
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abstract = "Objective Radiation oncology consultations involve explanation of complex technical concepts using medical jargon. This study aimed to: analyse types and frequency of medical jargon that radiation therapists (RTs) use during education sessions; identify how patients seek clarification from RTs; and, explore RTs communication strategies. Methods Education sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed. Medical jargon was analysed using MaxDictio (a vocabulary analysis programme). A distinction was made between specialised (specialised terms used in RT or cancer) and contextual jargon (common everyday words with a different meaning in RT). Qualitative data were analysed using Framework analysis. Results Fifty-eight patients and 10 RTs participated. Contextual treatment jargon were the most frequently used jargon (32.2{\%}) along with general medical terms (34.6{\%}). Patients appeared uncertain about the number of treatments, side effects, and the risks of radiation. Patients sought clarification by asking RTs to explain or repeat information. RTs replaced jargon with a simpler word, used everyday analogies, and diagrams. Conclusion Use of medical jargon is common in RT education sessions. RTs used different jargon types to varying degrees, but contextual jargon dominated. Practice implications Training RTs how to tailor information to enhance patients’ understanding would be beneficial. Future research exploring medical jargon used in other (non-) oncology settings is required.",
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