Medical News Today provides millions of people across the globe with in-depth health information and the latest news in medical research. To ensure that our content is as inclusive, impactful, actionable, relevant, reassuring, and empowering as possible, we’re committed to using conscious language. 

On this page, we’re sharing how we define conscious language, why it matters, and what it looks like in action across our publication.

What is conscious language?

Medical News Today defines conscious language as the intentional use of words and terms to create empathetic, inclusive, and non-stigmatizing content. We are intentional in how we phrase and frame health topics so that we do not perpetuate bias that can contribute to health inequities and stigma.

Conscious language is not political correctness, nor is it about limiting what people can say. Instead, it’s about expanding representation and being mindful of the words we use, always with the goal of helping people improve their health.

Why we prioritize conscious language

We provide our audience with content that is science-led, facts-first, inquisitive, and always approachable. We’re here to inspire people to live their healthiest lives, and we recognize that the words we use have an impact on people’s well-being. 

Using the right language ensures that we are inclusive and compassionate. If we don’t choose our words intentionally, we run the risk of misrepresenting people, stigmatizing conditions, and shaming those living with them. As a result, we use conscious language to ensure that we are using the best possible terminology. 

We aim to empower our readers to live their strongest, healthiest lives — no matter who they are. And we’re showing the world how we do that in the hope that we can unite against stereotypes, discrimination, and harmful health narratives.

Having a deep understanding of the lived experiences of our audience and always considering the words, phrasing, and framing we use ensures that our content meets the needs of all our readers.

When we’re able to speak directly to a person’s lived experience, we can be relevant, empathetic, and inclusive, all of which allows us to provide more individually actionable information to build a stronger, healthier world.

What conscious language looks like in action

Here at Medical News Today, we use person-first language, identity-first language, and empathy-first language when we talk about health conditions. We use person-first language as standard, but we acknowledge and respect that some communities may prefer identify-first language.

In addition, we believe that empathy-first language goes beyond person-first or identity-first language to include phrasing and framing of health topics in a way that promotes empathy, is non-stigmatizing, and does not promote bias.

Person-first language

Person-first language sees the person before the condition, acknowledging that a health condition doesn’t define who a person is. It’s something they have, not their identity.

For example:

They’ve been a diabetic for about 3 years.

Using person-first language, we’d say:

They’ve had diabetes for about 3 years OR They received a diagnosis of diabetes about 3 years ago.

Identity-first language

We also use identify-first language, which acknowledges that some conditions are inextricably linked to who a person is and cannot be separated from who they are. We use identity-first language when the community has clearly identified that this is the language they prefer.

For example:

A person with deafness may use assistive devices.

Using identity-first language, we’d say:

A deaf person may use assistive devices.

Empathy-first language

Alongside person-first language and identity-first language, we use empathy-first language that promotes empathy, is non-stigmatizing, and does not promote bias.

For example:

They were infected with HIV.

Using empathy-first language, we’d say:

They contracted HIV.

Here’s another example:

Being African American is a risk factor for stroke.

Instead, we’d say:

Stroke seems to affect more African American people. This may be due to social or environmental factors.

A final word on conscious language 

Using conscious language is about expanding representation and ensuring limitless inclusivity. When we’re intentional with our words, we can help all our readers take steps to improve their health and well-being. 

We use conscious language to ensure that we’re using the framing and phrasing that’s most likely to provide helpful, impactful information.

Our goal has always been to provide real health information with a human-first approach to empower people to live their best lives. By providing straightforward, expert-reviewed content and always using empathy-first language, we’re creating content that is bias-free and welcoming to all.

Click here to learn more about Medical News Today’s approach to content integrity, including our high standards for medical accuracy and editorial quality.