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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

WHO to "wikify" next ICD revision.
I once read an article (in Time, IIRC) on the rise of the DSM in psychology. The gist of it was that classification defines how disease is understood, that something so simple as a diagnostic manual caused massive changes in the way the world thinks about mental illness as a whole and in its particulars. I don't think it's too much of a leap to say that definition defines how disease is treated, studied, and funded as well. Thus the fact that the WHO is opening up its process to a wider audience is truly laudable. It's not that the 'power of the people' will cause millions of individuals to run in and fix the issues (known and as-yet-unknown) with ICD-10, it's that there are experts everywhere who have a little snippet of knowledge but wouldn't be consulted in a traditional process. And there are experts everywhere who happen not to be known for their groundbreaking research on the pathogenesis of whosywhatsis but nevertheless have their part to play.
That said, while it's not surprising WHO chose to restrict the experiment's openness, it's not clear that they will reap the same results because of it. There's a tricky balance between self-filtering by erecting hurdles and biasing who participates (in this case, to experts who would have been consulted anyway).



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