Wakelin, Rachel, & Peter Oakes (2020). Clinicians’ perceptions of the Bipolar Disorder diagnosis: A Q-study. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 15(1), 1-12. (Link: https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-08-2018-0045)

Abstract: Purpose: Research indicates that the diagnostic label of Bipolar Disorder is being both over and under-used in mental health services. Disagreement between clinicians in how the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder is perceived and how the label is used can make it difficult to establish and uphold consistent care. This may lead to the experience of negative emotions for service users and poor engagement with intervention. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explore whether clinicians do hold different perceptions of the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, with the view of providing insight into how this may impact service provision. Design/methodology/approach: Q-methodology was used to investigate the subjective viewpoints of 19 clinicians from mental health community teams supporting individuals with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. The completed Q-sorts were subject to analysis using Q-methodology analysis software. Findings: Three main factors representing the viewpoints of participants were identified: seeing the person and their experience, promoting quality through standardised processes and understanding the function of diagnostic labels. All three factors agreed that more than one assessment appointment should be required before a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder was given and that the focus should be on the difficulties experienced rather than the diagnostic label. Originality/value: These three viewpoints provide different perspectives of the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, which are likely to impact on service provision. Services may benefit from a better integration of the viewpoints, noting the important functions of each viewpoint and being guided by individuals’ needs.

Rachel Wakelin <rachel.wakelin2@nhs.net> is in the School of Life Sciences and Education, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.

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