Objective: To establish the comprehension of urological abbreviations by non-urologists, and evaluate the awareness of urologists to this issue. Subjects and methods: This study involved complimentary surveys to non-urologists and urologists in the same area. The non-urologist survey was distributed to three groups: medical students, junior doctors, GPs and GP trainees. It assessed the comprehension of 24 commonly used urological abbreviations. The urologists’ survey assessed the urologists’ expectations of comprehension by each of the non-urologist groups. A total of 196 non-urologists (19 medical students, 35 junior doctors and 142 GPs and GP trainees), and 11 urologists and urological trainees participated. Results: On average the junior doctors and GPs understood approximately the same number of abbreviations (9.86 and 9.62 correct, respectively), with the medical students understanding fewer (7.89 correct). While this difference was statistically significant (F2,193df=3.875, P=0.022), gender, number of years post-graduation and completion of a urology term were not shown to have an impact on the comprehension of urological abbreviations. Of the 24 abbreviations, nine were correctly understood by more than 50% of non-urologists. The urologists did not expect non-urologists to understand a majority of the abbreviations; however, most also reported not using abbreviations routinely in communications with non-urologists. Conclusions: These results suggest that caution must be used when using abbreviations in communication with non-urologists as there is a high chance of the recipient not understanding the abbreviations. This is particularly pertinent given the current rollout of electronic medical records across Australia.
- medical communications