“SLANG”— Sensitive Language and the New Genetics — an Exploratory Study
Journal of Genetic Counseling
(Published online: 30 December 2005)
J. Hodgson (1, 2, 5) , E. Hughes (2, 3) and C. Lambert (2, 4)
(1) Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, 3052, Australia
(2) Department of Paediatrics, Melbourne University, Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, 3010, Australia
(3) Genetic Support Network of Victoria (GSNV), Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, 3052, Australia
(4) Genetic Health Services Victoria (GHSV), Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, 3052, Australia
(5) Genetics Education, MCRI, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, 3052, Australia
SLANG — Sensitive Language and the New Genetics — is a concept that arose out of informal discussions between a number of interested parties, both consumers and professionals, who were becoming increasingly uneasy with some of the language commonly used in medical genetics. Some language choices were felt by the authors to be inappropriate for a variety of reasons. Poor language choice may impede an individual's understanding of a genetic condition or important medical information and the chosen words themselves may simply be perceived as discriminatory and even offensive.
SLANG is an important concept to explore partly because literature in this area confirms that language choices in medical settings can be of great significance to both patients and families. Studies have shown how language choices impact on professional practice by, as one example, changing the intended meaning of medical information and affecting individual perception of risk and choice which, in turn, may affect individual or familial well-being. In addition language choice has the power to affect how individuals perceive themselves and are viewed by others. This paper presents the results from our pilot study and discusses the implications for health professionals with particular reference to medical genetics settings.
(C) Journal of Genetic Counseling
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