Banish These Five Terms From Medicine?

Ariel Harsinay


September 26, 2018

2. Intensify

(noun): to increase in strength or magnitude

When new guidelines were released at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in Orlando in 2018, the guideline committee was bombarded with many questions about their recommendations for treating hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes. The discussion included choosing between various therapeutic options to achieve patients' glycemic targets and the importance of intensifying or escalating therapy.

One question seemed to surprise the committee. Dr Alice Cheng, an endocrinologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto, suggested that perhaps the terms "intensify" and "escalate" (with respect to treatment) should be changed to phrases that make patients less fearful.

"Language matters when we are interacting with patients but also with each other," Cheng said. "Perhaps the term 'intensification of therapy' should be altered to 'reaching appropriate therapy,' because 'intensification' sounds serious and suggests greater complexity and adverse effects. Maybe this is contributing to some of the hesitancy our colleagues have in increasing therapies appropriately."

Committee members said they found the idea intriguing and would take it under advisement.


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