The language doctors use to talk to diabetes patients makes a difference to success

What doctors say to patients with diabetes can make a difference, according to educators.

Doctors need to watch their language when talking to patients with diabetes.

The words doctors choose can make a difference in a patient’s success in controlling diabetes, according to diabetes educators who made a presentation at the American Diabetes Association meeting in San Diego last weekend.

The presenters were members of a committee that submitted a five-point consensus statement for publication to the association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators, according to MedPageToday.

Among those recommendations is that doctors and other healthcare providers use language that is neutral and nonjudgmental, based on facts, action or physiology/biology. It’s important doctors avoid any language that can be viewed as putting down patients or discouraging them from having confidence in managing their disease, the educators said. For example, instead of telling patients their efforts with meal planning, exercise and medication have failed and there’s a need to add another drug, a doctor could talk about A1C levels and explain that an additional medication would work in a different way.

"Language conveys meaning and can reflect bias that will affect outcomes, even when you're not aware of it," said Susan Guzman, Ph.D., a clinical and research psychologist at the Behavioral Diabetes Institute in San Diego, according to the MedPage Today report.

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Among the other recommendations is that doctors use language that is respectful, inclusive and imparts hope to patients.