Committee For the Protection of Human Subjects

Glossary of Terms

It is very important that all terms used in the consent documents use very simple language that is not too technical and reads at a 6th grade reading level.  The use of medicalese and legalese is strongly discouraged.  Below you will find a list of technical terms and samples of simplified substitutes to be used.



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acceptable:  good; decent; capable
acute:  a quick and severe form of illness in its early stage 
adequate:  good 
administer:  give (to) 
administration (of):  giving (of) 
adverse event/reaction:  side effect 
AIDS:  (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) a disease that affects the body’s immune system; development of the disease or conditions associated with the disease results from HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) 
appropriate:  (the) right; correct 
approximately:   about 
assess:  rate the level (of health/wellness), judge (the health/wellness of) 
assigned:  placed in (into a group) 
associated (with):  having to do (with) 
asymptomatic:  having no symptoms or problems 
at risk:  having a possibility that something negative may happen 
audiotape:  a cassette tape that is listened to 

baseline:  a patient’s medical status before any treatment or research is done 
benefit:  a good effect 

chronic:  long lasting or long-term 
clinical trial:  medical research study of a new drug, new use of a drug, new device, or new use of a device in human volunteers 
compensation:  payment or gift to a research subject/volunteer 
conclude(d):  end(ed) 
confidentiality:  keeping all information about a research subject/volunteer private 
consequence:  result; effect; outcome 
consists of:  includes 
CPHS:  (Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects) a committee which reviews medical research studies involving human subjects for safety and ethics 

determine:  find out (if) 
double blind(ed):  a medical research study in which the subjects and the researchers are not told which of two or more treatments the subjects are receiving 

effective:  works; works well; works better (than) 
effectiveness:  working ability 
efficacy:  the usefulness, working ability of a type of treatment 
elevate:  raise 
evaluate:  rate the level (of health/wellness), judge (the health/wellness of) 

fever:  an increase in body temperature 
first degree relative:  a patient’s spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, or child 
follow-up:   returning to see the doctor at a later time 

genetic:  passed down from birth parents in the genes 
guarantee:   promise hereditary a trait, condition, or disease passed down to from birth parents 

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus):  a life-threatening infection which you can get from an infected person’s blood or from having sex with an infected person 

inclusion criteria:  the characteristics a subject must have to be included in a medical research study 
infusion:  a fluid or a medicine delivered into a vein by way of a needle 
inheritance:  something passed down from birth parents 
inherited:  a characteristic or condition that is passed down from birth parents 
initial:  first 
interfere:  get in the way of 
intervention:  a treatment given during the course of a research study 
intramuscular:  a fluid or a medicine delivered into a muscle by way of a needle 
intravenous:  to put medicine or fluid into a vein by way of a needle 
intubate:  to insert a tube into the mouth or nose to assist in breathing 

long-term extension:  continuation of a research study 

medical record:  a chart containing all of the patient’s personal information, doctor’s notes, nurse’s notes, test results, and 
treatment information that may be kept by a hospital or clinic 
mild:  not serious 
moderate:  medium level of seriousness 
monitor:  watch 
multicenter:  when more than one hospital or medical school team work on a medical research study 
multiple dose:  getting more than one dose of medicine 

nausea:  feeling sick to your stomach 

obesity:  very overweight 
obligated:  have to; must 
observe:  watch; look at 
obstruction:  block, blockage 
obtain:  get; determine 
occur(s):  take(s) place 
open label:  a medical research study in which subjects and researchers are told which treatments the subjects are receiving, “unblinded” 
oral:  having to do with the mouth; to be swallowed 
orally:  taken by mouth; to be swallowed 

parallel-design:  a medical research study comparing the response in two or more groups of subjects receiving different interventions (treatments) 
participant:  person taking part 
participate:  take part 
participation:  taking part 
phase I:  a medical research study using healthy volunteers; initial safety testing of a new drug 
phase II:  a later clinical study looking at a new drug’s dosage, safety, and efficacy in patients 
phase III:  a still later controlled, randomized study testing a specific dose of a new drug and its effectiveness in treating a condition or disease 
phase IV:  after a drug has been approved by the FDA and is available for use; a study that looks at how well the drug is being used in the medical community 
placebo:  an inactive substance; a “sugar pill” 
potentially:  could be; possibly 
previous:  other; done before 
principal investigator (PI):  the main individual who is responsible and accountable for conducting a medical research study 
prior:  before 

randomized:   like the flip of a coin; 50/50 chance of receiving a study medicine or treatment 
rationale:  reason(ing) 
regarding:  about 
remission:  when a medical problem gets better or goes away at least for a while 
research study:  a process of collecting information about a specific question in order to find an answer 
research subject(s):  a volunteer(s) who is taking part in a medical research study 
risk:  a possibility of injury or harm 
risk factor:  a characteristic or actions of an individual which identify them as having a high likelihood of developing a specific disease or condition 

satisfactorily
:  (good) enough 
screening:   the process of deciding if someone is qualified to tale part in a medical research study or not 
severe:  very serious, life threatening 
side effects:  unwanted or unintended problems with a drug or treatment 
single blind(ed):  a medical research study in which the subjects are not told which of two or more treatments the subjects are receiving, but the researchers are 
single dose:  getting one dose of medicine 
site (of investigation):  the place where the medical research study will be carried out 
sponsor:  the company, department, or person who is paying for the medical research study 
study phase:  how far along the medical research study is 
subcutaneous:  injected under the skin by way of a needle 
symptoms:  medical problems which are noticed by a patient 

temperature:  how warm or cold a patient’s body is 
therapy:   medicine or medical care given to a patient for a disease or condition 
thorough:  complete, good 
tolerability:  how well a patient can stand a particular medicine or treatment; ability to be used 
treatment:  medicine or medical care given to a patient 

UCRC:  University Clinical Research Center 
utilize:  use 

videotape:  a tape played on a VCR to watch and listen to 

washout period:  the time during which a patient’s body gets rid of a medicine once they stop taking it 



Readability Statistics: 
For those of you who are using Microsoft Word, here are the instructions for turning on the "Readability Statistics" program. 
How to display readability statistics: 
1)  On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab. 
2)  Select the Check grammar with spelling check box. 
3)  Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK. 
4)  When ready, spell check the document. 
5)  When Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document. 

Note on the "Readability Scores": 
Flesch Reading Ease score: Rates text on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. 
** Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score: Rates text on a U.S. grade-school level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document.

Do you have a suggestion for a term or acronym that should be added to the Research Language Glossary? Please submit your suggestion to cphs@uth.tmc.edu


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Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects
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Houston, Texas 77030

Phone 713.500.7943
Fax     713.500.7951
Email cphs@uth.tmc.edu 

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