Beware ofgroup labels

Sometimes in scientific writing, participants in a study seem to lose their individuality. They are either categorized as objects (the elderly) or equated with their conditions (the demented). (Matters are not improved by changing this to the demented group!) Do not label people by their disabilities. Broad clinical terms such as borderline are loaded with innuendo unless properly explained. Calling one group normal may prompt the reader to make comparison to abnormal, stigmatizing individuals with differences (the lesbian group vs. normal women). Likewise, do not use emotionally loaded adjectives, such as "stroke victims confined to wheelchairs." Substitute neutral wording such as "individuals who had a stroke and use a wheelchair."

Labels such as Group A are not offensive, but they are not particularly descriptive either. The solution that is currently preferred places the people first, followed by a descriptive phrase (such as people diagnosed with schizophrenia).

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