We examined the prevalence of novel acronyms in the titles of anaesthetic and related studies and the response of anaesthetists to them. We separately analysed trainee-led research projects in the UK supported by the Research and Audit Federation of Trainees (RAFT), and a 10-year cohort of papers identified using the PubMed literature search tool. We also conducted a survey of 20 anaesthetists within our institution regarding the utility and impact of titles containing acronyms, and their recall of the associated topics. Finally, we developed a scoring system for acronym accuracy and complexity, the ORigin of AcroNym letterinG Used Term AppropriateNess (ORANGUTAN) score, and measured the progression of acronym usage over the 10-year period studied. Our results show that while acronyms themselves are sometimes considered memorable, they do not aid recall of topics and are, in general, not considered helpful. There has been an increase in the prevalence of acronymic titles over 10 years, and in the complexity of acronyms used, suggesting that there is currently a selective pressure favouring the use of acronyms even if they are of limited benefit.
Keywords: abbreviations; clinical trials; terminology; unified medical language system.
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