Background: Person-centered language (PCL) is the recommended method of addressing patients by the American Medical Association Manual of Style in medical research, thus requiring published manuscripts to be free of non-PCL. Although individuals, communities, and organizations have the autonomy to use non-PCL, it is imperative for medical researchers to use PCL in an effort to reduce the transfer of stigmatization into clinical practice.
Objective: To determine current adherence to PCL related to individuals with limb or digit amputations in scientific journals. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was performed by systematically searching PubMed from May 1, 2018 to April 30, 2020 for publications focused on amputations. Journals with less than 20 articles were excluded, and remaining publications were randomized, with the first 500 articles selected. Articles were screened for inclusion criteria, and data were extracted in masked, duplicate fashion, for predetermined non-PCL terms. A chi-squared test and logistic regression were used to quantify PCL adherence study characteristics.
Results: Of 500 articles, 81 were excluded, and 419 articles from 13 journals were examined—64.6% containing non-PCL. The most common non-PCL terms used were “amputee” in 148 articles and “limb loss” in 138 articles. PCL was significantly associated with article type, research funding, and journal requirements for PCL.
Conclusions: Results indicate that one-third of research articles were PCL-adherent, which we speculate may contribute to the stigma that individuals with amputations experience. Our findings suggest that PCL adherence is higher among surgery research and lower among engineering and prosthetic research.
- Person-centered language