Jargon: A barrier in case history taking? ‑ A cross‑sectional survey among dental students and staff

R. Subramaniam, R. Sanjeev, Suneesh Kuruvilla, Mathew T. Joy, B. Muralikrishnan, John Paul


Background: The use of jargon has become very common in the healthcare field, especially inmedical/dental records. Although the use of standard medical jargon can be seen as professional,efficient shorthand, a lack of awareness regarding the standard medical abbreviations and incessantand overzealous use of slang among the healthcare professionals can act as a barrier to effectivecommunication and understanding among patients and peers. The aim of this study was to assessthe acceptance and use of jargon in case history taking among clinical dental students and dentalteaching faculty members of dental colleges in Ernakulam and Idukki districts of Kerala.Materials and Methods: A cross‑sectional questionnaire‑based survey was carried out, consistingof 15 questions, to assess the objectives of the study. The study was conducted among clinical dentalundergraduate students, house surgeons, postgraduate students and teaching faculty membersof five dental colleges in Ernakulam and Idukki districts, Kerala. The results were expressed as anumber and percentage of response for each question and Chi‑squared test was used for inferentialstatistical analysis.Results: All the 549 respondents used jargon in case history taking. Approximately 22.4% of therespondents admitted that they always used jargon and 55.8% admitted of using jargon only whenthere was a lack of time. The majority of the respondents (71.4%) learned the jargon from theircolleagues. Approximately 50% of the respondents admitted use of jargon in a history section andabout 32% of the respondents in all the sections of case history taking. Approximately 74% wereof the opinion that abbreviations should be permitted in case history taking.Conclusion: This study showed widespread use of jargon/abbreviations in case history takingamong the respondents. There is a lack of knowledge regarding standard medical abbreviations.Although the majority of the respondents were comfortable with the use of jargon, the majorityof the postgraduates and faculty members felt the use of jargon should be stopped.Key Words: Abbreviations, case history, dental students, jargon

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