Attending Physician and Medical Student Perception of Medical Jargon in Bedside Presentations

1Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
2Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
3Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
4Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
5Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
6Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
7Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY

Meeting: Hospital Medicine 2008, April 3-5, San Diego, Calif.

Abstract number: 72

Background:

In recent decades, patient “rounds” have largely shifted from the bedside to the conference room. The literature suggests that one reason may be the fear of provoking patient anxiety with the use of medical jargon. Several studies have examined patient preference for bedside rounding, but few have effectively gauged the physicians' perspective, particularly at different levels of training. This study investigated the differences in the perspectives of attending physicians versus medical students with regard to the use of jargon during bedside rounds. We hypothesized that medical students would find bedside rounding with medical jargon use more uncomfortable (eg, for fear of patient confusion), whereas attending physicians would not identify any discomfort.

Methods:

Sixty attending physicians and 60 medical students (n = 120) on inpatient medical teams at a major academic medical center were given 2 written case presentations of the same bedside rounding scenario: 1 in medical jargon and 1 in lay terms. On a Likert scale ranging from 1 = “strongly agree” to 9 = “strongly disagree,” they were asked to rate their reactions to the presentations in 8 questions. They were also asked to rate their perceptions of patient reaction to the presentations in 5 questions. Paired‐sample t tests were used to determine statistical significance.

Results:

Differences were seen in attending physician ratings for level of comfort between the 2 case presentations (P = .001). Attendings were more comfortable using the nonjargon presentation at the bedside (mean = 4.41, SD = 2.72) than the jargon presentation (mean = 5.98, SD = 2.76). Interestingly, students did not show such a difference (jargon: mean = 5.09, SD = 2.76; nonjargon: mean = 4.69, SD = 2.52; P = .422). However, differences were seen in both groups' perceptions of the patient's level of understanding (P < .001 for both groups). As would be expected, the non‐jargon presentation was perceived to be more easily understood by the patient than was the jargon presentation (attendings: mean = 7.70, SD = 1.85, versus mean = 5.55, SD = 2.26; medical students: mean = 7.37, SD = 2.43, versus mean = 5.34, SD = 2.42).

Conclusions:

Contrary to our hypothesis, attending physicians demonstrated discomfort communicating at the bedside using a presentation with medical jargon, particularly in comparison with a presentation without medical jargon; medical students did not demonstrate a difference. One explanation may be that because of their fluency with medical terminology, attendings are able to focus on the patient's perspective and empathize more with the patient's possible lack of understanding of jargon. On the other hand, medical students are still in the process of acquiring the medical language; the emphasis that they place on the use of correct medical terminology may offset their perception of the patient's needs.

Author Disclosure:

E. Delgado, none; D. Shen, none; S. Guo, none; P. Chung, none; M. Doran, none; M. Graham, none; J. Chang, none; P. Lee, sanofi‐aventis and Eisai, speakers bureau.

To cite this abstract:

Shen D, Delgado E, Guo S, Chung P, Doran M, Graham M, Chang J, Lee P. Attending Physician and Medical Student Perception of Medical Jargon in Bedside Presentations. Abstract published at Hospital Medicine 2008, April 3-5, San Diego, Calif. Abstract 72. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2008; 3 (suppl 1). https://www.shmabstracts.com/abstract/attending-physician-and-medical-student-perception-of-medical-jargon-in-bedside-presentations/. Accessed May 26, 2019.

« Back to Hospital Medicine 2008, April 3-5, San Diego, Calif.