Conceptualizations of Mental Disorder at a US Academic Medical Center.


Conceptualizations of Mental Disorder at a US Academic Medical Center.


Aftab A; Joshi Y; Sewell D


The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease




How health care professionals conceptualize mental illness has received relatively little attention in existing literature. This survey explored how health care professionals, academic faculty, and trainees at a US academic medical center (departments of psychiatry, neurology, family medicine, and geriatric medicine, as well as medical students, nurses, and social workers) conceptualize the notion of mental disorder. Respondents (N = 209) were asked to rate their agreement or disagreement with a variety of conceptual statements. Overall, distress and impairment were seen as essential features of mental disorder, and the presence of a biological abnormality was not considered necessary. There was significant correlation between disease status and biological etiology attribution for all conditions except homosexuality. Psychology trainees and psychologists were significantly less likely to call a condition a disease compared with other groups. There was a general lack of consensus regarding conceptual issues fundamental to psychiatry. Conceptualizations of mental disorder held by respondents were complex and did not fit easily within the "biological psychiatry" paradigm.


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Aftab A; Joshi Y; Sewell D, “Conceptualizations of Mental Disorder at a US Academic Medical Center.,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed December 2, 2022,

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