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, 100 (1), 112-120

Communication During Radiation Therapy Education Sessions: The Role of Medical Jargon and Emotional Support in Clarifying Patient Confusion

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Communication During Radiation Therapy Education Sessions: The Role of Medical Jargon and Emotional Support in Clarifying Patient Confusion

Lena Schnitzler et al. Patient Educ Couns.

Abstract

Objective: Radiation oncology consultations involve explanation of complex technical concepts using medical jargon. This study aimed to: analyse types and frequency of medical jargon that radiation therapists (RTs) use during education sessions; identify how patients seek clarification from RTs; and, explore RTs communication strategies.

Methods: Education sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed. Medical jargon was analysed using MaxDictio (a vocabulary analysis programme). A distinction was made between specialised (specialised terms used in RT or cancer) and contextual jargon (common everyday words with a different meaning in RT). Qualitative data were analysed using Framework analysis.

Results: Fifty-eight patients and 10 RTs participated. Contextual treatment jargon were the most frequently used jargon (32.2%) along with general medical terms (34.6%). Patients appeared uncertain about the number of treatments, side effects, and the risks of radiation. Patients sought clarification by asking RTs to explain or repeat information. RTs replaced jargon with a simpler word, used everyday analogies, and diagrams.

Conclusion: Use of medical jargon is common in RT education sessions. RTs used different jargon types to varying degrees, but contextual jargon dominated.

Practice implications: Training RTs how to tailor information to enhance patients' understanding would be beneficial. Future research exploring medical jargon used in other (non-) oncology settings is required.

Keywords: Cancer; Communication; Health literacy; Medical jargon; Radiation therapist; Radiation therapy; Radiation therapy education sessions.

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