Don’t mess with medical metaphors

JOURNAL TALK


Doctors use metaphors literally all the time in their battle against health illiteracy. See what I did there?

Using — and misusing — metaphors is commonplace in health-related conversations, but getting doctors to agree on which ones are appropriate is, well, like herding cats.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association recently, US medical student Brit Trogen describes how medical metaphors are embedded early in a doctor’s training. She has already been taught to recognise ‘strawberry