POO will replace the words “stools” and “faeces” on NHS websites to stop patients getting confused.
Other words deemed too technical and set to be axed from health service material include “urinate” and “nausea”.
Alamy NHS website are replacing terms such as ‘stools’ and ‘faeces’ with the easier to understand ‘poo’
Health bosses, under orders to make public websites more understandable by September next year, deny dumbing down
As part of a plain English drive, NHS literature will instead refer to “pee” and “feeling sick”.
And the word “oral” will be replaced with “mouth” for easier understanding.
Research by NHS.UK Standards – the team behind the official website – found words like poo were preferred by all patients, no matter their educational level.
It has drafted a new health writing guide based on feedback from 10,000 people, test groups and analysing questions asked on Google.
The guidelines are for all those writing about health and the NHS – with new laws stating public websites must be accessible by September 2020.
More than 43 million people a month visit the official health service site for info.
One in ten moans about NHS materials is that it is too simplistic and patronising.
But experts rejected the idea they were dumbing down.
Speaking at a digital conference last month, lead content designer Sara Wilcox said: “The people prefer poo.”
She said complaints were a small price to pay for ensuring everyone understood the seriousness of finding “blood in your poo”.
On a blog for NHS Digital, she added: “We tested the words we get most complaints about with people with different levels of literacy.
“We found that everyone understood ‘pee’ and ‘urine’. People with higher literacy skills were slightly more likely to use ‘urine’ and people with low literacy were more likely to prefer ‘pee’.
“We tested ‘poo’ against ‘stools’ and ‘bowels’. No one used ‘stools’ and everyone preferred ‘poo’ to ‘bowels’.” According to the National Literacy Trust one in six adults in England has very poor reading skills.
FOUR IN TEN STRUGGLE
Experts warn four in ten people struggle with health content, while more than half find numerical health stories confusing.
Examples of muddled patients include a woman spraying her neck with her inhaler because she had been told to spray it on her throat.
The NHS digital team said a man missed a cancer test because he did not realise the radiology and X-ray department were the same thing.
And a woman did not believe her chemotherapy would work, as it was being given to a vein on the opposite side of her body to where her tumour was.
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Lee Monks, from the Plain English Campaign, welcomed the use of simpler language.
He said: “While we might be a little squeamish about certain terms, or consider them too simplistic, we’ve found that on occasion, terms like ‘poo’ and ‘vomiting’ are more useful or appropriate to a particular audience.
“In the end, it’s about what the majority of the recipients of the material feel, rather than a few minor commentators who are less keen.”
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