Physicians’ use of plain language during discussions of prostate cancer clinical trials with patients Article

Thominet, L, Hamel, LM, Baidoun, F et al. (2022). Physicians’ use of plain language during discussions of prostate cancer clinical trials with patients . PATIENT EDUCATION AND COUNSELING, 105(12), 3453-3458. 10.1016/j.pec.2022.09.002

cited authors

  • Thominet, L; Hamel, LM; Baidoun, F; Moore, TF; Barton, E; Heath, EI; Carducci, M; Lansey, D; Eggly, S



  • Objective: This study described physicians’ use of plain language during patient-physician cancer clinical trial discussions. Methods: Video-recorded clinical interactions and accompanying transcripts were taken from a larger study of communication and clinical trials (PACCT). Interactions (n = 25) were selected if they included invitations to participate in a clinical trial. We used descriptive, qualitative discourse analysis, a method that identifies language patterns at or above the sentence level. We first excerpted discussions of clinical trials, then identified instances of plain language within those discussions. Finally, we inductively coded those instances to describe physicians’ plain language practices. Results: The analysis identified four plain language practices. Lexical simplification replaced medical terminology with simpler words. Patient-centered definition named, categorized, and explained complex medical terminology. Metaphor explained medical terminology by comparing it with known concepts. Finally, experience-focused description replaced medical terminology with descriptions of patients’ potential physical experiences. Conclusion: These plain language practices hold promise as part of effective information exchange in discussions of cancer clinical trials. Testing is needed to identify patient preferences and the extent to which these practices address patient health literacy needs. Practice Implications: Pending further testing, these plain language practices may be integrated into physician clinical trial and other communication training.

publication date

  • December 1, 2022

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 3453

end page

  • 3458


  • 105


  • 12