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MSer – A new, neutral descriptor for someone with multiple sclerosis

      Highlights

      • Study reports an internet survey for a descriptor of someone with MS.
      • MSer is a preferred new term to describe someone with MS in Lay and other reports.
      • Person/People with MS is also a good and acceptable descriptor.
      • Patient as a descriptor receives little support.
      • Client and suffer should be avoided in both lay and formal scientific reports.

      Abstract

      Lay-members of the public are often involved in grant and ethics review panels. Furthermore grant applications/reports all require some form of lay summary. In response to critical remarks from people with multiple sclerosis (MS) about using the term ‘sufferer’ as a descriptor, a series of surveys using the internet/social media were undertaken. People who had MS did not like being called the politically-correct ‘client’ (1%) but also preferred not to be called a ‘patient’ (5%) or a ‘sufferer’ (6%) and felt that these were largely ‘poor’ terms to describe someone with MS. Likewise ‘person living with MS’ did not find favour (11%). In contrast ‘person/people with MS’ received a lot of support (34%) but the majority of responders of the surveys (n=396) supported the use of the term ‘MSer’ (43%) to describe someone with MS. This was considered to be ‘good’ descriptor along with ‘person with MS’. We suggest therefore that ‘MSer’ can be used as a new descriptor when writing about someone with MS, especially in lay summaries. Furthermore the use of ‘patient’ and notably ‘sufferer’ and ‘client’ should be avoided within both the lay and scientific literature.

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