Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews Primary Colour

Helen Salisbury: A chronic problem with language

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 20 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6437
  1. Helen Salisbury, GP
  1. Oxford
  1. helen.salisbury{at}
    Follow Helen on Twitter: @HelenRSalisbury

When I was instructed some years ago that the term “chronic disease” had been replaced by “long term condition,” I sighed, inwardly muttering the equivalent of “snowflakes.” But I changed my mind after a little thought and some data gathering among my non-medical friends. To them, “chronic” meant bad or severe. “Acute” also meant severe. I also asked another friend recently, a learned professor in a different field of science, who gave the same answers.

So, if “chronic” means bad, a chronic disease must be a bad one that’s likely to harm or …

View Full Text