20 Apr 2007

Political correctness gone mad!!!

'The term "blinding"—commonly used in clinical trials—is particularly inappropriate in the ophthalmological setting, not least because an outcome measure of a particular trial could indeed be blindness'. The authors suggest "masking" as an alternative. Is this political correctness gone mad?

Hardly. Political correctness just means being sensitive to people and their wishes. In another bout of political correctness, we recently changed the scope of
BMC Geriatrics to mention 'older' rather than 'elderly' people, as this is the preferred term. Equally, we always try to refer to patients as people, rather than letting them be defined by their condition. 'People with schizophrenia' is better than 'schizophrenics'.

That said, I think I'll continue to use the term "blinding" in a non-ophthalmological setting, but doctors running trials might want to think about "masking" being the term of choice.


pj said...

You try writing a whole paper using 'people with schizophrenia' instead of 'schizophrenics' - it is harder and clumsier than you'd think.

Matt Hodgkinson said...

I think that avoiding offence overrides stylistic concerns!

pj said...

So you'd have 'control subjects, patients with schizophrenia, patients with bipolar disorder, patients with schizoaffective disorder' as figure legends?!

Matt Hodgkinson said...


Wayne Freeman said...

I just think the whole concept of political correctness has run amuck. Saying what you mean used to be a whole lot simpler. These days, so much preceding careful thought has robbed us of the ability to communicate effectively.