Journal of Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 184--188

Knowledge, attitude, and practice of dental and medical students in jargon usage in their regular practice


Sneha Nachu, Srinivas Ravoori, Srinivas Pachava, Parveen Sultana Shaik 
 Department of Public Health Dentistry, SIBAR Institute of Dental Sciences, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Sneha Nachu
Department of Public Health Dentistry, SIBAR Institute of Dental Sciences, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
India

Abstract

Context: Jargon is widely used in the health-care field, particularly in medical/dental records. Although standard medical abbreviations/jargon can be seen as professional, efficient shorthand, overzealous, and unrepressed jargon used by medical and dental professionals can obstruct effective communication and understanding between patients and peers. Aim: The aim of the study was to assess the knowledge and practice of jargon among medical and dental students. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey consisting of 14 questions was carried out among final-year students and interns of the dental and medical college in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Both descriptive and inferential statistics (Chi-square test and Pearson correlation) were computed. Results: The majority of respondents used jargon while taking a case history. Nearly 86.2% of dental final year, 56.9% of dental interns, 73.8% and 74.6% of final medical years and interns used jargons when there was a lack of time (P = 0.002). 41.1% of BDS final year, 63.1% of BDS interns, 53.8% of medical final years, and 63.9% of medical interns were aware of standard abbreviations (P = 0.001). Nearly 78.5% of dental final year, 83.1% of dental interns, 63.1% and 66.2% of medical final years, and interns felt that the use of abbreviations should be permitted in case history taking (P = 0.027). Conclusion: The study showed the widespread use of jargon in case history taking among respondents. Although the majority of respondents were comfortable with jargon usage, there is a lack of knowledge regarding standard abbreviations. A structured guideline for the use of medical and dental abbreviations or jargon is needed to prevent miscommunication in the interpretation of medical records, which can lead to medicolegal issues.



How to cite this article:
Nachu S, Ravoori S, Pachava S, Shaik PS. Knowledge, attitude, and practice of dental and medical students in jargon usage in their regular practice.J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2021;19:184-188


How to cite this URL:
Nachu S, Ravoori S, Pachava S, Shaik PS. Knowledge, attitude, and practice of dental and medical students in jargon usage in their regular practice. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 26 ];19:184-188
Available from: https://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2021/19/3/184/328280


Full Text



 Introduction



Jargon is determined as “the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group; medical jargon, plumber's jargon.” This linguistic shorthand serves as a medium of communication among all the professions but efficiently excludes others.[1] It serves a dual purpose; one is expediting up communication with people in the know, while on the other hand, it can be utilized to keep precise knowledge away from the inexperienced. Communication failures generated by jargon are especially abundant and detrimental in health-care professions.[2]

Medical/dental records consist of information retained by health-care centers, doctors, local hospitals, or community health clinics, describing what physicians and other organizations know about a patient's medical condition and history, which consist of case history, details regarding medical/dental examinations, treatment planning, treatments executed, medicines prescribed, etc., Overzealous and unrepressed jargon use in diagnosis by medical and dental professionals can obstruct effective communication and understanding between patients and peers. Furthermore, communication barriers in health-care settings frequently go unnoticed and can have serious consequences for patients' health and safety. In health-care settings, communication barriers are quite often undetected and can have serious consequences for patients' health and safety.[3]

Efficient communication is a critical aspect of patient care, enhancing physician–patient relationships, and profoundly affecting patients' perceptions of health-care quality and treatment consequences.[3]

Although standard medical abbreviations can be seen as professional and efficient shorthand, improper use of them was correlated with problems concerning patient empowerment, patient autonomy, patients' emotional ease, satisfaction, and compliance.[4] The studies executed by Sharma and Patnaik and Subramaniam et al. exhibited the unrestricted use of jargon in case history taking among the clinical dental undergraduate students, interns, postgraduate students, and faculty members in dental colleges.[5],[6] As mentioned above, the literature highlights the lack of knowledge regarding standard medical abbreviations and overzealous use of jargon hindering effective communication.

Hence, the objective of this study was to assess dental and medical students' knowledge, attitude, and practice of jargon, as well as their acceptance of it in clinical history taking, at a teaching hospital in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India.

 Materials and Methods



A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey with 14 questions was conducted among 260 final-year students and interns of dental and medical college in January 2020. Out of 5 medical and dental colleges in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, a simple random sampling technique was used to select the two colleges included in the study through a lottery method. The study participants were selected through random sampling technique. The target groups were given a validated questionnaire that had been prefabricated.[6] Owing to the diverse nature of the country, it is critical to ensure that meticulous cross-cultural adaptation has been done when using a validated questionnaire that was validated in one population and adapting it into another community or population, hence the validity was rechecked in the target population. A pilot study was conducted among twenty each medical and dental students to check the feasibility and to ensure the validity and practicability of the questionnaire. After assessing face validity, content validity was assessed using the content validity ratio in the target population, and the value was found to be 0.75. The sample size was derived using formula Z2PQ/d2 where Z = standard normal deviate – set at 1.96 at 95% confidence level, P = proportion of the study population who use abbreviations while taking case history from a pilot study (P = 90.7%), q = 1 − p, and d = degree of accuracy desired at 0.05; it was determined that 130 students each in medical and dental college were taken into the study. The study included 260 participants out of a total population of 450. Those who submitted incomplete forms were excluded from participating in the study. The questionnaire has been split into two parts. The first segment consisted of personal and professional data queries, such as gender and year of study. The second part contained 14 questions on the knowledge, attitude, and practice of jargon during case history taking in a dental and medical setting. The last question was open-ended, asking the respondents to mention the most commonly used abbreviations/jargon. The research protocol for the study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB NUMBER: 33/IRB/SIBAR/2020). Permission was granted, and signatures were allotted by the respective administrative office. Following a clarification of the study's intent, all participants gave their informed consent.

The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 24 (IBM, Chicago Inc., IL, USA) was used for data analysis. Both descriptive and inferential statistics (Chi-square test and Pearson correlation) were computed. Chi-square test was used to examine the difference between the groups. P ≤ 0.05 was set as the level of statistical significance.

 Results



[Table 1] depicts the distribution of study subjects according to gender and designation. Of this majority were females (n = 211) in both the medical and dental fields.{Table 1}

The majority of the respondents (95.4%, 100%, 81.5%, and 86.2% of BDS final years, BDS interns, final medical students, and medical interns, respectively) used jargon in case history taking. When compared to other groups, BDS final years (75.4%) admitted that they occasionally used jargon, and 86.2% admitted that they used jargon only when there was a lack of time. Between the frequency of abbreviations usage and the year of study, there was a statistically significant difference (P = 0.009), which was positively correlated (r = 0.003) [Table 2].{Table 2}

The majority of the respondents, that is, 58.5% of BDS final years, 29.2% of BDS interns, 47.7% of final medical years, and 45.5% of medical interns, used abbreviations for saving time. Final BDS students (66.2%), BDS interns (56.9%), final medical years (49.2%), and medical interns (53.8%) learned the jargons from their colleagues, whereas 21.5%, 24.6%, 30.8%, and 27.7% of them, respectively, reported that they learned it from their teachers [Table 2].

When asked whether they had difficulty in interpreting abbreviations written by others, the majority of final-year BDS students (49.4%) reported having faced difficulty sometimes when compared to 45.2%, 39.3%, and 33.4% of final year medical students, BDS interns, and medical interns, respectively (P = 0.03, r = 0.01) [Table 2].

A significantly higher percentage of medical interns (64.9%) were aware of standard medical abbreviations compared to 41.1% of BDS final years, 63.1% of BDS interns, and 63.8% of final-year medical students (P = 0.001, r = 0.27). Almost 78.5% of BDS final years, 83.1% BDS interns, 63.1% medical final years, and 66.2% medical interns hoped that the use of abbreviations should be permitted in case history taking (P = 0.002, r = 0.14) [Table 2].

[Table 3] depicts the most common jargon used by the respondents.{Table 3}

 Discussion



Communication is typically the activity of conveying information, expressing emotions, and building relationships to develop trust between health-care providers and their patients/residents.[7] Communication is often regarded as an essential tool in a health-care perspective that, when used effectively, can educate, empower, and dethreaten common health concerns patients present within the practice. Efficient communication enhances overall satisfaction and contributes to better-sustained health outcomes. Nevertheless, if used ineffectively, it can have deleterious effects creating fear, confusion, and anxiety among patients and encouraging resistance to lifestyle modifications and healthy behaviors. Limited literacy skills are among the strongest predictors of poor health outcomes for patients affecting health status, health-care use, and appropriate health-care decisions.[8]

Low health literacy has often been regarded as a “silent epidemic,” a mismatch between a clinician's communication level and a patient's comprehension level. This mismatch in communication is further strengthened by the use of jargon in the medical profession.[9] Jargon usually implies that people's specialized language or code in the same work or profession is challenging for others to understand. Health information research and guidelines usually suggest that medical terminology is avoided when interacting with patients due to their inadequate perception of medical terms.[10]

In the present study, 70.4% of the respondents admitted to using jargon only when there was a lack of time. This habit is significantly higher in final-year students compared to house surgeons. It highlights the fact that the use of jargon has become an integral component of writing for a significant proportion of the population. The overzealous use of short messaging services and social media may play a vital role in this regard. Over 56.4% reported learning the jargon from their colleagues, which is again a matter of concern. Peer group has a significant impact throughout one's life, but they are more critical concerning academic performance. Similar findings were reported by Sharma and Patnaik[5] and Subramaniam et al.[6]

Nearly 14.3% of the respondents used jargon while recording patient's personal information and history section. Guidelines in case history taking indicate that these sections require a language so that the patient can perceive.[11] With case history records serving as important legal evidence in medicolegal cases, uniformity must be strictly maintained in its recording.

The present study indicated that in contrast to the medical and dental interns, most of the final-year students faced difficulty understanding abbreviations used by others, which is complying with the study conducted by Subramaniam et al.[6] This could be due to the fact that dental and medical interns have more clinical experience and are better trained than undergraduate students.

Avoiding acronyms and technical language in referral letters and other correspondence with colleagues can also help avoid misunderstandings and save time in interpretation.[12]

Physicians must prescribe medications with legible generic names, preferably in capital letters, according to an MCI (Medical Council of India) notification released in April 2017. Abbreviations or scribbling the name of the medicine is to be strictly avoided.[13]

The use of jargon instead of standard medical terms in an unregulated and unrestricted manner may be harmful. The current study is pristine, and it adds to a limited body of literature regarding jargon and its acceptance in clinical history taking among dental and medical students in Guntur, India. However, our study had certain limitations. The study data relied profoundly on the respondents' information so that it may be biased by social desirability. There can be a difference in abbreviation usage among one institute to another institute, which can lead to miscommunication. The study cannot be generalized as it is limited to medical and dental students in Guntur city. Studies with a large sample size in multiple health centers are recommended to provide a more accurate understanding of jargon used in a wider population.

Recommendations

Lack of awareness was one of the most common reasons for this observation; attempts should be made to increase awareness by integrating it into the curriculum. The faculty members have a significant role to play in this concern by ensuring that the students record case histories without abbreviations.

 Conclusion



The study showed the widespread use of jargon in case history taking among respondents. Although the majority of respondents were comfortable with jargon usage, there is a lack of knowledge regarding standard abbreviations. A structured guideline for the use of medical and dental abbreviations or jargon is needed to prevent miscommunication in the interpretation of medical records, which can lead to medicolegal issues.

Acknowledgment

We would like to acknowledge everyone who took part in the research for their time and effort. We are grateful to the principal and management of medical and dental colleges for allowing us to conduct the research in their respective facilities.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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