What's in a Name?
Information and Education

What's in a Name?

It’s understandable that when dealing with as sensitive a topic as incontinence there are polarizing opinions on terminology – more specifically, whether incontinence products should be called “diapers,” “briefs,” or “underwear.” 

The term “adult diapers” has made its way into modern-day lexicon for many reasons, the most obvious being that the term is used when speaking of absorbent undergarments for infants. Since they are very similar in shape, structure, and technology, it’s easy to see why many consumers would adopt “adult diapers” as their go-to expression. You can even test out its popularity yourself: a recent search of the phrase on Google immediately dealt over 4.5 million results; a search only moments later for “adult briefs” netted just 1.6 million pages.

At Healthwick, we use all three terms but for different purposes:

Underwear refers to absorbent undergarments that you pull up as you would real underwear; because of this, they are also sometimes called “pull-ups.” They may even be manufactured to resemble cloth underwear, thanks to a thinner profile and lower rise, and are sometimes available in solid colours, like cloth briefs or panties. 

Briefs or diapers have adhesive tabs to secure the product around the waist. They provide a higher level of absorbency than pull-up products, and their design allows the user or caregiver to change the product without having to remove any clothing.  

Some feel that “diapers” may not be the best language for these types of products and, like hospitals and health care centres across the country, would prefer “briefs” to be used in its place. This is feedback we have heard, and to which we are certainly receptive.

So what’s the best term to use? In the end, we always deflect such decisions to you, our customers. What’s your preference? Do you feel any of these terms are viewed in a negative light? Speak up in the comments, email us at help@healthwick.ca, or reach out to us on Twitter and Facebook, and let us know what you think.

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