Attention to detail in the selection of words in epidemiologic research reports

Philip Greenland*, Mark Pepys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A recent article in the Journal by Whelton et al. (Am J Epidemiol. 2013;178(7):1076-1084) prompted this commentary about the use of the word "elevated" in medical reports. We believe that the word used in that particular report should have been "higher." The exposure variable was not actually elevated according to what we understand the word to mean in epidemiologic research. Consistent with the elimination of the inappropriate use of elevated and according to correct clinical chemistry usage, we suggest that the word "level" should also have been avoided in that context. We discuss the specific example of C-reactive protein in the article by Whelton et al. Appropriate word selection underpinning accurate reporting should avoid unnecessarily misleading readers about the meaning of epidemiologic findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-796
Number of pages2
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • C-reactive protein
  • accuracy in reporting
  • medical publishing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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