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Examining Attitudes Towards Mental Health Diagnoses: A Q-Methodology Study.

Authors
  • Fulton-Hamilton, Emily1
  • Morgan, Gareth1
  • 1 School of Psychology, George Davies Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester, England.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of mental health (Abingdon, England)
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
Volume
33
Issue
1
Pages
57–65
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1080/09638237.2023.2182430
PMID: 37129104
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Debates exist regarding the validity and utility of functional psychiatric diagnoses. How mental health diagnoses are understood has real impacts for service users and service delivery. To investigate different attitudes about the utility of psychiatric diagnoses. Forty-one stakeholders sorted 57 statements related to the usefulness of psychiatric diagnoses. Using q-methodology, four viewpoints were identified and interpreted. Viewpoint 1 (Pathologising human experience) regarded diagnoses as pseudo-scientific constructs that lacked validity and obscured the relationships between lived experience and distress. Viewpoint 2 (Illnesses like any other) held that labels reflected real disorders and diagnosis offered important benefits for service users and services. Viewpoint 3 (Stigmatised conditions) similarly regarded diagnoses as reflecting real disorders, but diagnostic criteria were viewed as biased and the impacts of applying labels seen as causing problems for service users. Conversely, Viewpoint 4 (Useful short-hands) viewed diagnostic processes as imperfect but necessary for supporting communication and structuring service delivery. While not all viewpoints are in keeping with empirical evidence, we hope results will enable professionals and service users to take meta-positions in relation to their own and others' attitudes, and to reflect on the impacts of privileging certain viewpoints over others.

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