Access to treatment with controlled medicines rationale and recommendations for neutral, precise, and respectful language

Scholten, W; Simon, O; Maremmani, C; Wells, C; Kelly, J.F; Hämmig, Robert; Radbruch, L (2017). Access to treatment with controlled medicines rationale and recommendations for neutral, precise, and respectful language. Public health, 153, pp. 147-153. Elsevier 10.1016/j.puhe.2017.08.021

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The European Pain Federation EFIC, the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies, the Swiss Romandy College for Addiction Medicine, the Swiss Society of Addiction Medicine, and the World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence called on medical journals to ensure that authors always use terminology that is neutral, precise, and respectful in relation to the use of psychoactive substances. It has been shown that language can propagate stigma, and that stigma can prevent people from seeking help and influence the effectiveness of social and public-health policies. The focus of using appropriate terminology should extend to all patients who need controlled medicines, avoiding negative wording. A narrow focus on a few terms and medical communication only should be avoided. The appropriateness of terms is not absolute and indeed varies between cultures and regions and over time. For this reason, it is important that communities establish their own consensus of what is 'neutral', 'precise', and 'respectful'. We identified twenty-three problematic terms (most of them we suggest avoiding) and their possible alternatives. The use of appropriate language improves scientific quality of articles and increases chances that patients will receive the best treatment and that government policies on psychoactive substance policies will be rational.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services

UniBE Contributor:

Hämmig, Robert


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Marlise Matti

Date Deposited:

05 Mar 2018 10:01

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 21:02

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Opioids; Pain; Patient access; Publication policy; Stigma; Substance use disorder; Terminology




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