Patients’ understanding of medical terminology is crucial, as studies have shown that incomplete or misunderstanding of these words can lead to problems with treatment and adverse outcomes, as well as undermine consent. The field of head injuries is particularly affected by this, in part due to the sheer number of different terms, many with similar meanings, that are used in consultations.
My research aims to investigate the extent to which people understand medical terms relating to minor head injuries, how confident they are in their understanding, and what kinds of associations they might have with these words. This will be accomplished by building on methods successfully employed in similar research focusing on cancer terminology.
This research will contribute to knowledge of which words and phrases cause problems with understanding when they are used in consultations. Identifying these issues will enable medical professionals to be more aware of the language they use and adapt it where necessary to ensure effective communication. This should in turn lead to patients being able to both better consent to and better participate in decision-making about their health.