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What's in a name? An experimental study of patients' views of the impact and function of a diagnosis

Ogden, J, Branson, R, Bryett, A, Campbell, A, Febles, A, Ferguson, I, Lavender, H, Mizan, J, Simpson, R and Tayler, M (2003) What's in a name? An experimental study of patients' views of the impact and function of a diagnosis Family Practice, 20 (3). pp. 248-253.

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Objective. The aim of the present study was to examine patients' views about the relative impact and function of lay and medical diagnoses for stomach and throat problems. Methods. A questionnaire survey was carried out among 900 consecutive patients attending nine general practices across England. A total of 740 questionnaires were completed (response rate: 82.2%). Each participant rated a series of statements describing the impact upon the patient and the function for the doctor following both a stomach and a throat problem case scenario involving either a lay (stomach upset/sore throat) or medical (gastroenteritis/tonsillitis) label. Results. The results showed consistent differences between the lay and medical labels for both stomach and throat problems in terms of their impact upon the patient and their function for the doctor. In particular, the medical labels were rated as beneficial for the patient in terms of validating the sick role and improving their confidence in the doctor. In contrast, the lay labels resulted in a greater sense of ownership of the problem which could be associated with unwanted responsibility and blame. In addition, the medical labels were seen to provide the doctor with a greater sense of professionalism, as giving them a clearer role in the consultation and to imply less blame on the part of the patient. 'Stomach upset' was also seen as a more pragmatic label than 'gastroenteritis'. Conclusion. Although much current prescriptive literature in general practice advocates the use of lay language in the consultation as a means to promote better doctor-patient partnerships, the issue of diagnosis is more complex than this. Patients attribute greater benefits to the use of medical labels for themselves and state that such medical labels are of greater benefit to the doctor.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Ogden, J
Branson, R
Bryett, A
Campbell, A
Febles, A
Ferguson, I
Lavender, H
Mizan, J
Simpson, R
Tayler, M
Date : 2003
Additional Information : This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Family Practice following peer review. The version of record 'What's in a name? An experimental study of patients' views of the impact and function of a diagnosis', Family Practice, 2003, 20 (3), pp. 248-253 is available online at:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 27 Feb 2015 10:08
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 14:48

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