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Following up on “A Trend I Cannot Endorse”

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By Warren R. Heymann, MD, FAAD
Sept. 22, 2021
Vol. 3, No. 38

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I admit defeat.

For those of you who did not read “A Trend I Cannot Endorse,” which was published on Dermatology Insights and Inquiries (the forerunner of Dermatology World Insights and Inquiries), please take a look.

After finishing an excellent article about public perceptions of sunscreen labeling, I wanted to see if the medical use of the word “endorse” is now in the dictionary. In the manuscript itself there were two sentences utilizing the word: 1) “More than half endorsed at least 1 previous dermatology visit (54.2%) and having received prior sunscreen counseling by a health care provider (51.9%).” 2) “Approximately half (46.1%) assumed 'dermatologist recommended' or 'clinically proven' sunscreens were endorsed by the AAD.” (1)

I am 100% comfortable with the second sentence. The first I find irksome — Would patients have endorsed the visit if perchance they were dissatisfied with the encounter?

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According to Merriam-Webster, the medical definition of endorse is “to report or note the presence of (a symptom)” using the example, “He endorsed nausea without emesis and denied any associated shortness of breath.” (Merriam-Webster.com accessed Sept. 6, 2020.)

The only reason I can think that this use of “endorse” is now in the dictionary is because its use (or misuse) has become so prevalent, it has become standard lexicon.

Now that its use has become “official,” I can no longer complain about it, for fear of sounding like a persnickety curmudgeon. Nevertheless, you will not see it in my writings, nor crossing my lips when describing a patient’s symptoms or history.

I fully endorse anyone who agrees with me in this regard.

Point to Remember: The word “endorse” used to describe a patient’s symptoms or history has become so prevalent, the term has entered the dictionary. Although I will have to accept the lexicographer’s decision, I do not endorse it!

Our expert’s viewpoint

Dirk M. Elston, MD, FAAD
Editor, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology
Medical University of South Carolina

Language evolves, although I’m in the camp that mourns some of the changes. Split infinitives still bother me although they are now considered acceptable in the AMA style guide. The new uses of “endorse” and rash “to” the left lower extremity also grate a bit, but we are the old guard and within a generation no one will notice or object.

  1. Voller LM, Polcari IC. Public misperceptions of common sunscreen labeling claims: A survey study from the Minnesota State Fair. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2020;83(3):908-910. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2019.12.040

All content found on Dermatology World Insights and Inquiries, including: text, images, video, audio, or other formats, were created for informational purposes only. The content represents the opinions of the authors and should not be interpreted as the official AAD position on any topic addressed. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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