Why do we still call them "adult diapers"?

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Why do we still call them "adult diapers"?

Healthwick closely aligns itself with many clinical and research-based groups, including the Canadian Nurse Continence Advisors, Urology Nurses of Canada and Canadian Continence Foundation. 

And one thing that any reputable healthcare professional will tell you - the term "adult diapers" is taboo. It's considered to be at best undignified and at worst downright offensive to people who are using them to manage incontinence. The preferred terms are "incontinence briefs" or "adult briefs"

So why do we still use "adult diapers" at Healthwick.ca? Well, unfortunately it's because all of us as Canadians still use that phrase 100x more than the preferred clinical terms. And because Healthwick.ca is an online retailer, we have to adopt the most common phrases so that people can find our website if they need help with incontinence products.

Check out this graph from Google Trends, showing search volume for "adult diapers" vs "incontinence briefs" vs "adult briefs" in Canada from 2013 to present. The two preferred clinical terms hardly even register, comparatively speaking.

For better or for worse, and except for the small percentage of the population who work in hospitals, long-term care facilities or private nursing, "adult diapers" is to "incontinence briefs" the way "Q-tips" is to "cotton swabs" or "Kleenex" is to "facial tissues".

I'll tell you a little secret - Healthwick used the phrase "adult briefs" exclusively on our website up until early 2013, for the same reasons that healthcare professionals do - we felt "adult diapers" could be construed as disrespectful to our customers. 

One of the reasons we changed was that we had several phone conversations that went something like this:

Customer: "I ordered these adult briefs but you sent me adult diapers!

Healthwick Rep: "But, sir/ma'am, I'm sorry.... that's what adult diapers are....?"

Customer: "No, briefs are like tight underwear. Everyone knows that."

For many of our customer, managing incontinence is difficult and embarrassing enough; and here we were making it worse for them by using the industry-preferred-but-inherently-confusing term.

"Adult diapers" isn't graceful and it might be distasteful to some, but it does have the benefit of being unambiguous and to this day, I think it's the reason that the vast majority of Canadians still use it when looking for product (and hence why we still use it here at Healthwick.ca). 

We're open to other suggestions, though! Drop us a line at help@healthwick.ca

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  • Sharron
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