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Terms used to describe urinary tract infections – the importance of conceptual clarification

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Liss P-E, Aspevall O, Karlsson D, Forsum U. Terms used to describe urinary tract infections – the importance of conceptual clarification. APMIS 2003;111:291–9.

Inaccuracies in medical language are detrimental to communication and statistics in medicine, and thereby to clinical practice, medical science and public health. The purpose of this article is to explore inconsistencies in the use of some medical terms: urinary tract infection, bacteriuria and urethral syndrome. The investigated literature was collected from medical dictionaries, textbooks, and articles indexed in Medline®. We found various practices regarding how the medical terms should be defined, and had great difficulty in interpreting the status of the statements under the heading of ‘definition’. The lesson to be learned, besides a reminder of the importance of clearly defined medical concepts, is that it must be explicitly stated whether what is presented as a definition is to be considered as defining criterion, as recognising criterion or as characteristic of the disease entity.

Keywords: Bacteriuria; characteristic; defining criterion; recognising criterion; urethral syndrome; urinary tract infection

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Health and Society, Linköpings Universitet, 2: Department of Biomedical Engineering, Linköpings Universitet, Sweden

Publication date: February 1, 2003


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