The Use of Person-Centered Language in Medical Research Journals Focusing on Psoriasis: Cross-sectional Analysis

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Background: Person-centered language places a person’s identity before any disability or medical condition they may have. Using person-centered language reduces stigma and improves the patient-physician relationship, potentially optimizing health outcomes. Patients with psoriasis often feel stigmatized due to their chronic skin condition. Objective: We seek to evaluate the use of person-centered language in psoriasis literature and to explore whether certain article characteristics were associated with non–person-centered language. Methods: We performed a systematic search on PubMed for recently published articles in journals that regularly publish psoriasis studies. After article reduction procedures, randomization, and screening, we reached our target sample of 400 articles. The following non–person-centered language terms were extracted from each article: “Psoriasis Patient,” “Psoriasis subject,” “Affected with,” “Sufferer,” “Suffering from,” “Burdened with,” “Afflicted with,” and “Problems with.” Screening and data extraction occurred in a masked duplicate fashion. Results: Of the 400 included articles, 272 (68%) were not adherent to person-centered language guidelines according to the American Medical Association Manual of Style. The most frequent non–person-centered language term was “Psoriasis Patient,” found in 174 (43.5%) articles. The stigmatizing language was associated with the type of article and funding status, with original investigations and funded studies having higher rates of stigmatizing language. Conclusions: Articles about psoriasis commonly use non–person-centered language terms. It is important to shift away from using stigmatizing language about patients with psoriasis to avoid potential untoward influences. We recommend using “patients with psoriasis” or “patient living with psoriasis” to emphasize the importance of person-centered care.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28415
JournalJMIR Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Dermatology
  • Inclusive language
  • Language
  • Person-centered language
  • Psoriasis
  • Stigma


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