Jargon Be Gone – Patient Preference in Doctor Communication

Katherine A. Allen, Victoria Charpentier, Marissa A. Hendrickson, Molly Kessler, Rachael Gotlieb, Jordan Marmet, Emily Hause, Corinne Praska, Scott Lunos, Michael B. Pitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


While it has been shown that healthcare providers often use medical jargon, less is known about how patients prefer their clinicians communicate. This mixed-methods study aimed to better understand the general public's preference in healthcare communication. A volunteer cohort of 205 adult attendees at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair was presented a survey with two scenarios at a doctor's office sharing the same information: one using medical terminology and one using simpler, jargon-free language. Survey participants were asked which doctor they preferred, to describe each doctor, and to explain why they believe that doctors may use medical terminology. Common descriptive themes for the jargon-using doctor included that this doctor caused confusion, was too technical, and was uncaring, while the doctor who spoke without jargon was perceived as a good communicator, caring/empathetic, and approachable. Respondents perceived a range of reasons why doctors use jargon, from not recognizing they are using words that are not understood to trying to make themselves feel more important. Overall, 91% of survey respondents preferred the doctor who communicated without medical jargon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Patient Experience
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • communication
  • doctor preference
  • medical jargon

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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