Clinical terminology: anxiety and confusion amongst families undergoing genetic counseling

Chapple, Alison, Campion, Peter and May, Carl (1997) Clinical terminology: anxiety and confusion amongst families undergoing genetic counseling. Patient Education and Counseling, 32, (1-2), 81-91. (doi:10.1016/S0738-3991(97)00065-7).


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Genetic counseling is a rapidly expanding, but highly demanding, domain of doctor-patient communication. This paper reports results from an ethnographic study of families (n = 30) attending a genetic counseling clinic in Northern England. We suggest that the language used in this particular specialty is often confusing and misunderstood by the families involved. We found that unfamiliar terms may also conjure up alarming images. It is important therefore, that physicians, and in particular geneticists, try to use simple, understandable language, and give clear explanations for unfamiliar terms that cannot be avoided. The careful choice of words, and detailed explanation, not only reduces the risks of “labelling” and stigmatization, but may also prevent the unnecessary anxiety experienced by patients when they hear unfamiliar medical terms, such as the eponyms frequently employed by geneticists when giving a diagnosis.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/S0738-3991(97)00065-7
ISSNs: 0738-3991 (print)
1873-5134 (electronic)
Related URLs:
Keywords: genetic counseling, families, doctor-patient communication, anxiety
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Health Sciences
ePrint ID: 163383
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
10 September 1997Published
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2010 08:32
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:29

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