Changes in the research stream by standardization: A content analysis of the Archives of General Psychiatry during the establishment of operational diagnostic criteria

  • Fujigaki Y
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Universality through standardization is at the heart of scientific and
medical practices. In this study we dealt with the meaning,
significance, and implications of standardization through
``operationalization{''} in psychiatric diagnostic criteria by focusing
on the effects of the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) M.
What does ``operational{''} mean?{*} The discussion of
``operationalization{''} in psychiatric diagnosis poses quite a
challenge. Given the importance of semantics and the word networks of
everyday life in forming descriptions of symptoms and reaching clinical
judgments, cultural differences in these semantics inevitably have
strong impacts on psychiatric diagnosis. The link between sensitivity
and semantics in words enhances this effect. In spite of the
difficulties in approaching operationalization in psychiatric diagnosis,
several attempts have been made to standardize diagnostic criteria.
Prominent examples include the DSM of the American Psychiatric
Association and the ICD (International Disease Classification) of the
WHO. In this paper we analyzed the effects of standardized diagnostic
criteria by performing a content analysis of papers published in the
Archives of General Psychiatry from 1978 to 1990. Our results clearly
show changes in the research questions, research designs, methodologies,
target diseases, and selections of independent and dependent variables.

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  • Yuko Fujigaki

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