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A Transdisciplinary Definition of Diagnosis

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Diagnosis is a fundamental abstract reasoning concept in healthcare. It forms the foundation for clinical guidelines, evidence-based practice, and healthcare interventions. The definition of diagnosis is evolving in a manner that may change patient care and clinical research. Currently, dictionary definitions of diagnosis fall into two broad categories, those that stress the original etymology and those that are based on classifying the patient problem according to preexisting labels. Many medical diagnoses are not sufficient to justify allied health, profession-specific interventions. Some authors have suggested profession-specific definitions of diagnosis and profession-specific nomenclature. However, a unique set of labels that are insulated from other health professions has been difficult to achieve because of the interdependence of pathology, impairments, and the patient's role in society. Coordinated interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary patient care, including clinical guidelines, and efficient delivery of services necessitate a definition that facilitates communication across health care professions. A solution to this dilemma may be to create a bridge, recognizing the multifactorial etiology of health and professional autonomy while explicitly stating the context of profession-specific interventions as a team approach. I propose that the definition of diagnosis be modified to: "the process of determining mechanisms by which the patient's health condition arises and the conclusions reached by doing so."

Document Type: Commentary

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of Allied Health is the official publication of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). The Journal is the only interdisciplinary allied health periodical, publishing scholarly works related to research and development, feature articles, research abstracts and book reviews. Readers of the Journal comprise allied health leaders, educators, faculty and students.
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