Language disparities between patients and dermatologists in describing acne lesions

Published:December 12, 2006DOI:


      There are no studies evaluating the comprehension of terms used by dermatologists to describe acne lesions.


      The goal is to evaluate the comprehension of terms and pictures representing various acne lesions.


      Patients were asked to describe terms and pictures of various acne lesions. Responses were graded as nonspecific, consistent, or inconsistent with physicians' description of the same lesion.


      For 5 of 9 terms and for 2 of 6 pictures, the majority of responses were inconsistent or nonspecific.


      Our sample size was limited and did not represent all ethnic groups, educational levels, and geographic regions. We did not record which patients had acne versus which patients did not. Finally, the wording of the question “What words would you use to describe what you see in the picture?” may be misleading.


      Patients have limited understanding of terminology commonly used by dermatologists to describe acne lesions.
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