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To think that patronising letters do not increase compliance with screening programmes

(41 Posts)
Oldsu Thu 25-Jun-15 21:37:31

A few months ago I was sent a tester kit for bowel cancer, and promptly lost the bally thing, although I have no symptoms a second cousin did have bowel cancer so had it in the back of my mind to find out how to request a second kit.

Before I could do so I was sent a reminder from the BCSP via my GP.

Now I do realise that these letters should be in plain English with no medical jargon, however these kits are sent out to people like me when we reach 60, so is it really REALLY necessary to send out a letter to a mature adult with the words 'poo' and 'tummy' in?

Quite frankly if it was a test I wasn't really bothered having done, instead of making my own mind up to have one anyway I would have thrown the letter away in disgust, there really must be a way to getting the message across to the public without treating them like a five year olds.

MrsNuckyThompson Thu 25-Jun-15 21:44:42

Completely agree.

Got to me in hospital giving birth to DS when staff kept referring to paediatricians as 'baby doctors'. Urgh.

SeenSheen Thu 25-Jun-15 22:07:34

Just another thing that has been dumbed down to the lowest level...

Florriesma Thu 25-Jun-15 22:11:22

If I look at it from my perspective as a patient I agree with you.

However, i have had to unpick and explain so much healthcare related stuff in my job and put it in the most simplest terms that really these leaflets have to be the way they are or some people would understand even less than they already do. The nhs can't afford to send out 2 leaflets aimed at different levels of understanding.

So on balance yabu

Oldsu Thu 25-Jun-15 22:16:11

Florrie I think that even the thickest patient understands what a stomach is so why use 'tummy' and most people understand the word stool so why put poo in brackets

ExcuseMyEyebrows Thu 25-Jun-15 22:17:10

I don't mind this too much as I can see the need for it.

I even thought 'baby doctor'was nice and clear.

However I did resent being asked how my 'tail' was on the postnatal ward hmm

Florriesma Thu 25-Jun-15 22:18:25

Oldsu, you would be surprised.

Florriesma Thu 25-Jun-15 22:19:58

And no, a lot of people do not understand stool. Don't forget it has to be accessible to those who have low education levels for whatever reason and those with learning disabilities.

WinterOfOurDiscountTents15 Thu 25-Jun-15 22:21:16

I think you're overestimating what people understand.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 25-Jun-15 22:22:08

Florrie casual terminology can also lead to confusion though.

I have kidney problems and the fetal maternal medicine consultant kept talking about my risk of "water infections". I didn't know that term but guessed he meant UTI in general.

It was only halfway thru working out a treatment plan that I realised he thought I was subject to cystitis. I'm not, I get kidney infections.

I think it's fine to use standard English terminology like "stomach".

Florriesma Thu 25-Jun-15 22:37:12

That's your personal experience and it's valid to you. I could say uti to another patient and I may as well talk about the intricacies of space travel for all they would understand by that term

The leaflets have to be inclusive
That means those with any degree of learning disability -many of whom live independently and may not have any support.

Oldsu Thu 25-Jun-15 23:12:44

Florriesma it wasn't a leaflet but a letter on my GPs headed paper

MoustacheofRonSwanson Thu 25-Jun-15 23:31:51

I think some doctors are second only to some lawyers in assuming that anyone without exactly the same degree as them is as thick as two short planks.

The one-size-fits-all, dumb everything down to it's lowest level approach doesn't work.

PatsyNoPasta Thu 25-Jun-15 23:42:46

I was present during a consultation where a patient was discussing a possible vasectomy . The GP referred to Ova the Egg and Sammy the Sperm. I barely kept a straight face.

snowglobemouse Fri 26-Jun-15 04:13:15

Yabu. Yes you find it annoying and patronising to read the words poo and tummy but YOU UNDERSTAND THEM- if those words make sense to a few people who may not understand stool and stomach, why is that a huge inconveniece for you?!

snowglobemouse Fri 26-Jun-15 04:19:24

re 'baby doctor'- what's the problem with that? A paed introduces themself as a 'baby doctor' and you automatically hear "paediatrician" in your head- great, you understand their proper title! some mothers may not know what a paediatrician is and be pleased that they introduced themselves in plain terms

WiIdfire Fri 26-Jun-15 04:27:20

People do NOT understand basic medical words. At all. I have had patients looking blank at 'stool', 'faeces' and 'bowel movement' and had to resort to 'having a shit' because that was the language they used.

I often apologise in case Im using too basic language when explaining to people, but the majority of the time people say they are just pleased they can finally follow whats going on with them. People do not like to stop you and say that they dont understand. They will just nod along with the consultant, and then quietly ask the nurse after to explain it again - I've seen it happen.

So, really basic language is just the safest way to go.

And 'tummy' and 'stomach' dont mean the same things to me. 'Tummy' means 'abdomen', but 'stomach' is a small part of the digestive tract?

Becles Fri 26-Jun-15 06:54:35

YABU. In some areas the reading age is 11. Better to be patronised, than to not reflect a real need for accessible information.

AuntieStella Fri 26-Jun-15 07:08:43

If someone said 'baby doctor' I'd assume newly qualified pre-registration year tbh.

But if a doctor, whether baby or not, is going to get the vocabulary 'wrong', I'd rather the error was in the direction of over-simplification because the matter of greatest importance is everyone understands the information.

Optimist1 Fri 26-Jun-15 07:14:11

If a health professional was using terms like tummy and poo to me in a face-to-face situation I would feel patronised because I hope they would be able to gauge my level of understanding and use adult terms. But when they're sending letters to people they can't make that assessment so have to aim for the widest level of understanding.

WiIdfire - I'm with you 100% re tummy/stomach/abdomen!

scaevola Fri 26-Jun-15 07:21:12

It sounds as if it wasn't written by Oldsu's own GP for her, but was a stock letter that that admin person prints out.

I doubt any surgery can afford to increase the number of admin staff to personalise letters, or the number of GPs to be able to cease using stock letters.

DrankSangriaInThePark Fri 26-Jun-15 07:26:38

As Wildfire says, I bet 8 people out of 10 would actually point to their intestines/bowel if you asked them where their stomach was. And would say 'I prefer something with a back to lean on' if you mentioned stools

nooka Fri 26-Jun-15 07:38:10

Surely using both stool and poo covers both those who understand a bit of medical jargon and those that don't have a clue quite nicely? Tummy to me is my gut not my stomach, when I have tummy ache it's normally my intestines that are hurting, I'm always slightly surprised that my stomach is so high up my abdomen (hence heartburn being in your chest).

MrsDeVere Fri 26-Jun-15 07:48:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lljkk Fri 26-Jun-15 07:56:22

I think it's fine to use standard English terminology like "stomach".

I have trouble remembering that stool = faeces and I sit reading medical papers all day. blush

About 45% of Europeans have inadequate or marginal health literacy.

Patronising would have been a message of "Now Dear we know what's best for you, don't be a silly by not taking your poo test" which I didn't read in OP.

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