In Brief: Uncovering diagnostic biases

In Brief

Uncovering diagnostic biases

Mental health professionals presented with a realistic, brief, fictional case history describing a troubled young man provided diagnoses that varied with the age and theoretical orientation of the clinician, the race of the client or patient, and the social context in which the case history was presented.

Nearly 1,400 psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, a representative professional sample, participated in the study. Researchers mailed each of them one of three case vignettes describing a boy with typical symptoms of conduct disorder: persistent behavior violating social norms and the rights of others, including deceit, theft, aggression, and rule violations like truancy and running away from home. Conduct disorder was chosen because it is the most common reason for referring adolescents for treatment.

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