Do words matter? health care providers’ use of the term prediabetes

Jenifer J. Thomas, John C. Moring, Samantha Baker, Macey Walker, Terra Warino, Talisha Hobbs, Adara Lindt, Tori Emerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Communication of risk is not solely the transfer of information; it is an interaction and exchange of ideas between concerned individuals. Health care provider communication about type 2 diabetes risk status may influence individual participation in behaviours that prevent or delay the disease, which is concerning from a public health perspective. The term prediabetes is used to convey risk status and little is known about how health care providers view or use the term. In this article, we describe health care provider use and perceptions of the term prediabetes drawing on data from interviews conducted between August and November 2011 of 15 health care providers practicing in Southeast Wyoming and Northern Colorado USA. We used a grounded theory research design to guide data collection and analysis and in the interviews invited providers to describe their use and perception of the term prediabetes. We found that providers’ use of the term ‘prediabetes’ depended on their view of the term’s meaning (e.g. whether patients were likely to understand or be confused by it) and impact (in terms of motivating patients to mitigate risk). We found there were differences in providers’ perceptions of the negative and positive associations of the term and this influenced whether or not they used it. These findings are not surprising given the lack of consensus over definitions and diagnosis criteria for prediabetes. Given this lack of agreement, there are difficulties about the use of the term prediabetes and its use should take place within effective risk communication. Health care providers must consider essential aspects of risk communication in order to enable individuals at risk of type 2 diabetes to mitigate the risk and by doing so reduce incidence and prevalence rates of the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-315
Number of pages15
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Aug 18 2017


  • diabetes
  • health care providers
  • medical terminology
  • prediabetes
  • risk
  • risk communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Do words matter? health care providers’ use of the term prediabetes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this