How our words can scare patients into overtreatment

Doctors are being urged to avoid using medical jargon as it can scare patients into over-testing and overtreatment.

Patients with low-risk conditions such as ductal carcinoma in situ are likely to think their condition is more serious and opt for aggressive treatment when doctors use medical terminology, a review by Australian academics has found.

Using less technical, plain English terms, such as “abnormal cells”, is associated with people thinking their condition is less serious and opting for more conservative approaches, according to their review of seven studies involving