Mental health clinicians have previously been reported to express reservations regarding the utility and accuracy of the psychiatric classification systems. In this study we aimed to examine clinicians’ experiences with instances of perceived inaccuracy of a schizophrenia diagnosis.
Mental health clinicians (N = 175) participated in an online survey assessing prevalence and perceived reasons for inaccuracies of a schizophrenia diagnosis. Respondents included psychiatric ward directors (13.1%), senior psychiatrists and psychologists (40.5%), and psychiatry and clinical psychology residents (36%).
Fifty-three percent of respondents reported encountering instances where a schizophrenia diagnosis was assigned even though clinical presentation did not match diagnostic criteria. Seventy-three percent of senior psychiatrists in a position to determine a diagnosis declared assigning schizophrenia even when controversial among clinical staff, and 15% of them declared doing so frequently. The likelihood of frequently assigning a schizophrenia diagnosis even when clearly controversial was predicted by the perception that an inaccurate diagnosis is assigned due to the presence of negative symptoms (OR 2.20, 95% CI 1.04–4.66, p = 0.039) and due to patient-related factors, such as the need to facilitate rehabilitation (OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.07–2.90, p = 0.024).
Although a schizophrenia diagnosis is considered relatively stable and clear, our study indicates that, in clinical practice, the assignment of this diagnosis is frequently controversial. These controversies are associated with the perception that an inaccurate diagnosis is assigned due to diagnostic considerations, or due to the possibility that patients might benefit from such a diagnosis. Implications and limitations for psychiatric practice and discourse are discussed.
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- Attitudes of mental health clinicians toward perceived inaccuracy of a schizophrenia diagnosis in routine clinical practice
Dana Tzur Bitan
Ariella Grossman Giron
- BioMed Central