Research Affairs / 
Glossary of Lay Terms Frequently Used in Consent Forms


If you find the word in BOLD in your consent form, consider defining it or replacing it with a simpler synonym, as suggested in the following.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Absorb
take up fluids, take in

Acetaminophen
acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol

Acidosis
condition when blood contains more acid than normal

Acuity
clearness, keenness, esp. of vision or airways

Acute
new, recent, sudden

Adenopathy
swollen lymph nodes (glands)

Adjuvant
helpful, assisting, aiding

Adjuvant treatment
added treatment

Adverse effect
side effect

Allergic reaction
rash, trouble breathing

Ambulate - ation - ory
walk, able to walk

Analgesic
a drug or agent used to decrease the feeling of pain

Anaphylaxis
serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction

Anemia
decreased red blood cells; low red cell blood count

Anesthetic
eliminate the feeling of pain by putting you to sleep

Angina
pain resulting from insufficient blood to the heart muscle

Angina pectoris
(same as above)

Antecubital
area inside the elbow

Antibiotic
drug that kills bacteria and other germs

Antibody
protein made in the body in response to foreign substance; attacks the foreign substance and protects us from infection

Anticonvulsant
drug used to prevent seizures

Antilipemic
a drug that counteracts fat in the blood

Antimicrobial
drug that kills bacteria and other germs

Antitussive
a drug used to relieve coughing

Arrhythmia
any change from the normal heartbeat (abnormal heartbeat)

Aspiration
fluid entering lungs following vomiting, the taking in of a fluid

Assay
lab test

Assess
to learn about, measure, consider, evaluate, judge

Asymptomatic
without symptoms

Axilla
armpit

 

B (back to top)

B.I.D
twice a day

Benign
not malignant, without serious

Binding/bound
carried by, to make stick together, transported

Bioavailability
the extent to which a drug or other substance becomes available to the body

Blood profile
series of blood tests

Bolus
a large amount

Bone mass
the amount of [calcium in a given amount of] bone

Bradyarrhythmias
slow, irregular heart beats

Bradycardia
slow heartbeat

Bronchospasm
breathing distress caused by narrowing of the airways

 

C (back to top)

Carcinogenic
capable of causing cancer

Carcinoma
type of cancer

Cardiac
pertains to the heart

Cardioversion
restoration of normal heart beat by electric shock

Catheter
a tube for withdrawing or introducing fluids

Catheter - indwelling epidural
a tube placed near the spinal cord used for anesthesia during operations

Cerebral trauma
damage to the brain

CHD
coronary heart disease

Chemotherapy
treatment of disease, usually cancer, by chemical agents

Chronic
continuing for a long time

Clinical
pertaining to medical care

Clinical trial
an experiment in patients

Complete response
total disappearance of disease

Consolidation phase
treatment phase intended to make a remission permanent, follows induction

Controlled trial
study in which the experimental treatment or procedure is compared to a standard (control) treatment or procedure

Cooperative group
association of multiple institutions to perform clinical trials

Coronary
pertains to the blood vessels that supply the heart

CT scan (CAT) (computerized tomography)
computerized series of x-rays

Culture
sample of fluid (blood, urine, pus, etc.) taken to test for infection or organisms that could cause infection

CVA (cerebrovascular accident)
stroke

 

D (back to top)

Diastolic
lower number in blood pressure reading

Distal
toward the end, away from the center of the body

Diuretic
"water pill" or drug that causes increase in urination

Doppler
sound waves

Double blind
study in which neither researcher nor subjects know what drug the subject is receiving

Dysplasia
abnormal cells

 

E (back to top)

Echocardiogram
sound wave test of the heart

Edema
increased fluid

EEG (electroencephalogram)
electric brain wave tracing

Effective
ow well it works

Efficacy
effectiveness

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
electrical tracing of heartbeat

Electrolyte imbalance
imbalance of minerals in the blood

Emesis
vomiting

Empiric
based on experience

Endoscopic examination
examination of an internal part of the body with a lighted tube; looking at a part of the body with a lighted tube

Enteral
by way of the intestines

Epidural
outside of the spinal cord

Expedited review
review of a protocol by the IRB chair without full committee approval, permitted with certain low risk research

Extravasate
a leak outside of a blood vessel

 

F (back to top)

FDA
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the branch of federal government which approves new drugs and medical devices

Fibrillation
irregular beat of the heart or other muscle

 

G (back to top)

Gastrointestinal
stomach and intestines

General anesthesia
pain prevention by inducing (causing) drugged sleep, as in surgery

 

H (back to top)

Hematocrit
amount of red blood cells in the blood

Hematoma
a bruise, a black and blue mark

Hemodynamic measuring
measuring of blood flow

Hemolysis
breakdown in red blood cells

Heparin lock
needle placed in the arm with blood thinner to keep the blood from clotting

Hepatoma
cancer or tumor of the liver

Holter monitor
a portable machine for recording heart beats

Hypercalcemia
high level of calcium in the blood

Hyperkalemia
high level of potassium in the blood

Hypernatremia
high level of sodium in the blood

Hypertension
high blood pressure

Hypocalcemia
low level of calcium in the blood

Hyponatremia
low level of sodium in the blood

Hypotension
low blood pressure

Hypoxemia
a decrease of oxygen in the blood

Hypoxia
a decrease of oxygen in the blood or tissues

 

I (back to top)

Iatrogenic
caused by a physician or by treatment

IDE
investigational device exemption, the license to test an unapproved new medical device

Idiopathic
of unknown cause

Immunoglobin
a protein that makes antibodies

Immunosuppressive
drug which suppresses the body's immune response, used in transplantation and diseases caused by disordered immunity

Immunotherapy
giving of drugs to help the body's immune (protective) system; usually used to destroy cancer cells

IND
investigational new drug, the license to test an unapproved new drug

Induction phase
beginning phase or stage of a treatment

Induration
hardening

Infarct
death of tissue because of lack of blood supply

Infusion
introduction of a substance into the body, usually into the blood

Ingestion
eating; taking by mouth

Intramuscular
into the muscle; within the muscle

Intrathecal
into the spinal fluid

Intravenous (IV)
through the vein

Intravesical
in the bladder

Intubate
the placement of a tube into the airway

Invasive procedure
puncture, opening or cutting of the skin

Ischemia
decreased oxygen in a tissue (usually because of decreased blood flow)

 

J (back to top)

 

K (back to top)

 

L (back to top)

Lactating
nursing

Leukopenia
low white blood cell count

Lipid content
fat content in the blood

Local anesthesia
creation of insensitivity to pain in a small, limited area of the body

Localized
restricted to one area, limited to one area

Lumen
the cavity of an organ or tube (e.g., blood vessel)

Lymphangiography
an x-ray of the lymph nodes or tissues after injection of dye in lymph vessels (e.g., in feet)

Lymphocyte
a type of white blood cell important in immunity and defense against infection

Lymphoma
a cancer of the lymph nodes (or tissues)

 

M (back to top)

Malaise
a vague feeling of unwellness

Malignancy
cancer or other progressively enlarging and spreading tumor, may be fatal if not successfully treated

Medullablastoma
a type of brain tumor

Megaloblastosis
change in red blood cells

Metabolize
process of breaking down substances in the cells to obtain energy

Metastasis
spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another

MI
myocardial infarction

Minimal
slight, least, small(est), limited

Minimize
reduce, decrease, lessen

Mobility
ease of movement

Monitor
check on; keep track of; watch carefully

Morbidity
undesired result or complication

Mortality
death

Motility
the ability to move

MRI
Magnetic resonance imaging, body pictures created using magnetic rather than x-ray energy

Mucosa, mucous membrane
moist lining of digestive, respiratory, reproductive, and urinary tracts

Multiple project assurance
agreement between institutions and Office for Protection from Research Risks (OPRR) regarding institutional policies on the use of human subjects in research

Myocardial
pertaining to the heart muscle

Myocardial infarction
heart attack

 

N (back to top)

Nasogastric tube
tube through the nose into the stomach

NCI
the National Cancer Institute

Necrosis
death of tissue

Neoplasia
tumor, may be benign or malignant

Neuroblastoma
a cancer of nerve tissue

Neutropenia
decrease in the main part of the white blood cells

NIH
the National Institutes of Health

Noninvasive
not break, cutting or entering the skin

Nosocomial pneumonia
pneumonia acquired in the hospital

 

O (back to top)

Occlusion
closing, obstruction

Occult blood test
a sample of stool is taken and tested for tiny amounts of blood

Oncology
the study of tumors or cancer

Ophthalmic
pertaining to the eye

OPRR
The Office of Protection from Research Risks of the NIH, oversees IRBs and related matters

Optimal
best, most favorable or desirable

Oral administration
by mouth

Orthopedic
pertaining to the bones

Osteopetrosis
rare bone disorder resulting in dense bone

Osteoporosis
softening of the bones

Ovaries
female sex glands

 

P (back to top)

Parenteral
administration by ______ (a route other than oral, involving a needle or insertion of a tube)

Patency
condition of being open

Pathogenesis
causative mechanism in a disease

Per os (PO)
by mouth

Percutaneous
through the skin

Pharmacokinetics
the study of the way the body absorbs, distributes and gets rid of a drug

Phase I
initial study of a new drug in humans to determine limits of tolerance

Phase II
second phase of study of a new drug intended to obtain initial information

Phase III
large scale trials to confirm and expand information on safety and usefulness of new drugs

Phlebitis
irritation or inflammation of the vein

Placebo
a substance of no medical value; an inactive substance; a pill that contains no medicine; sugar pill; dummy pill

Placebo effect
improvement or change seen with the administration of a placebo

Platelets
small particles in the blood that help with clotting

Potentiate
increase or multiply the effect of a drug or toxin by administration of another drug or toxin at the same time

Potentiator
an substance that helps another substance work better

PRN
as needed

Prognosis
outlook, probable outcomes

Prone
lying on stomach

Prophylaxis
a drug given to prevent disease or infection

Prospective study
study following patients forward in time

Protocol
plan of study

Proximal
closer to the center of the body, away from the end

Pulmonary
pertaining to the lungs

 

Q (back to top)

Q.I.D
four times a day

 

R (back to top)

Radiation therapy
x-ray or cobalt treatment

Random
by chance, by the flip of a coin

Randomization
chance selection

RBC
red blood cell

Recombinant
formation of new combinations of genes

Reconstitution
cutting back together the original parts or elements

Refractory
not respond to treatment

Regeneration
regrowth of a structure or of lost tissue

Relapse
the return of a disease

Relapsed
the disease has come back

Remission
disappearance of evidence of cancer or other disease

Renal
pertaining to the kidneys

Replicable
possible to duplicate

Resect
remove or cut out surgically

Retrospective study
study looking back over past experience

 

S (back to top)

Sarcoma
a type of cancer

Sedative
a drug to calm or make less anxious

Seminoma
a type of testes cancer

Sequentially
in a row

Spirometer
an instrument to measure the amount of air taken into and exhaled from the lungs

Staging
a determination of the extent of the disease

Stenosis
narrowing of a duct, tube, or one of the valves in the heart

Stomatitis
mouth sores - infection of the mouth

Stratify
arrange in groups for analysis of results (e.g., stratify by age, sex, etc.)

Subclavian
under the collarbone

Subcutaneous
under the skin

Supine
lying on the back

Supportive care
general medical care aimed at symptoms, not intended to improve or cure underlying disease

Symptomatic
having symptoms

Systemically
distributed throughout the body, i.e., given internally

Systolic
top number in blood pressure, pressure during active contraction of the heart

 

T (back to top)

Teratogenic
capable of causing malformations in fetuses

Testes
male sex glands

Thrombosis
clotting, thickening, solidifying

Titration
a method for deciding on the strength of a solution

T-lymphocytes
type of white blood cells

Topical
surface, a product applied to the skin

Topical anesthetic
applied to a certain area of the skin and reducing pain only in the area to which applied

Transdermal
through the skin

Trauma
injury; wound

Treadmill
walking machine used to determine heart function

 

U (back to top)

Uptake
absorption and incorporation of a substance by living tissue, absorb and incorporate a substance, taking in a substance by living tissue

 

V (back to top)

Valvuloplasty
repair of a valve, esp. of the heart

Varices
enlarged veins

Vasospasm
narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain

Vector
a carrier, usually an insect, that carries and transmits disease causing microorganisms

Vehicle preparation
drug is in a lotion or liquid

Venipuncture
needle stick, entering a vein with a needle

 

W (back to top)

Waive your rights
give up your legal rights

WBC
white blood cells

 

X (back to top)

Y (back to top)

Z (back to top)


This document was prepared by Linda G. Halstead, Director, Research Affairs - Research Protection Programs. It is largely based on a copyrighted handout from the University of Kentucky and used by permission. Also included are excerpts from W.C. Waggoner and D.M. Mayo (1995) "Who understands? A survey of 25 or phrases commonly used in proposed clinical research consent forms" [IRB 17(1): 6-9]. Contributions from Loma Linda University's IRB members are also gratefully acknowledged. Additions are welcome.