Countercurrents: Do acronyms belong in the medical literature? (eg. GOG 182...) Ovarian Cancer and Us OVARIAN CANCER and US Ovarian Cancer and Us

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Countercurrents: Do acronyms belong in the medical literature? (eg. GOG 182...)



Narod | Current Oncology


After controlling for ds, rd, an interaction term for ds/cs, performance status, age, and cell type, cs was not an independent predictor of either pfs or os.
That ungainly sentence, with its 7 acronyms (5 that are different), is taken straight from the abstract of a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in March 2015: “Does aggressive surgery improve outcomes? Interaction between preoperative disease burden and complex surgery in patients with advanced-stage ovarian cancer: an analysis of gog 182”1. The rest of the paper uses even more acronyms, which, in our opinion, make it close to unreadable—or at the very least, unpleasant to read. That feeling of unease prompted us to send a note to the editor of the journal, pleading for greater consideration of its readers with respect to the excessive use of acronyms. The literature contains many other examples, and the use of acronyms varies from journal to journal......

 We understood better what was going after we read Daniel Kahnemann’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, wherein he discusses the internal competition in the brain4: Acronyms require an unnecessary investment of intellectual energy, which competes with the understanding of the main message. That is, either you focus on translating the acronyms or on understanding the sentence.
 REFERENCES
1. Horowitz NS, Miller A, Rungruang B, et al. Does aggressive surgery improve outcomes? Interaction between preoperative disease burden and complex surgery in patients with advanced-stage ovarian cancer: an analysis of gog 182. J Clin Oncol 2015;33:937–43.
cross-ref  pubmed  pmc  
2. Kressel HY. Herding bees: restricting overuse of abbreviations in biomedical literature. Radiology 2013;266:372–3.
cross-ref  pubmed  
3. Berlin L. tac: aoitromja? (The acronym conundrum: advancing or impeding the readability of medical journal articles?). Radiology 2013;266:383–7.
cross-ref  pubmed  
4. Kahnemann D. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; 2011.
5. Shiffrin RM, Nosofsky RM. Seven plus or minus two: a commentary on capacity limitations. Psychol Rev 1994;101:357–61.
cross-ref  pubmed  
6. Mack C. How to write a good scientific paper: acronyms [editorial]. J Micro Nanolithogr MEMS MOEMS 2012;11:040102.
cross-ref  
7. Cheng TO. Acronymophilia: the exponential growth of the use of acronyms should be resisted. BMJ 1994;309:683–4.
cross-ref  pubmed  pmc  
8. Jacobs IJ, Menon U, Ryan A, et al. Ovarian cancer screening and mortality in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (ukctocs): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2016;387:945–56.
cross-ref  pmc  
9. Lee JH, Cragun D, Thompson Z, et al. Association between ihc and msi testing to identify mismatch repair–deficient patients with ovarian cancer. Genet Test Mol Biomarkers 2014;4:229–35.
cross-ref  
10. McGill-Franzen A, Allington RL. Handbook of Research on Reading Disabilities. New York, NY: Routledge; 2010.

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