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Hong Kong Med J. 2012 Oct;18(5):381-7.

Prospective cross-sectional study using questionnaire to assess the effect of a different nomenclature for psychiatric illnesses on the perception of these diseases by university students.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.


OBJECTIVE. To assess the effect of a difference in nomenclature for psychiatric illness on perceptions of university students. DESIGN. Cross-sectional study. SETTING. Three local universities in Hong Kong. PARTICIPANTS. A total of 201 university students (undergraduates or postgraduates) were interviewed with a questionnaire. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Score difference between the new and old nomenclature of each disease for each question of the questionnaire, using a 5-point Likert scale and an integrated score difference for each disease. RESULTS. Of the seven diseases investigated, six yielded a significant yet mild increase in positive perceptions with the new nomenclature. These diseases included schizophrenia (integrated score difference: +0.158, P<0.001), neurasthenia (integrated score difference: +0.117, P<0.001), paranoia (integrated score difference: +0.209, P<0.001), personality disorder (integrated score difference: +0.282, P<0.001), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (integrated score difference: +0.086, P=0.005), and bipolar disorder (integrated score difference: +0.154, P<0.001). Epilepsy showed a negative perception with its new nomenclature (integrated score difference: -0.119, P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS. The new nomenclature system for psychiatric diseases achieves more positive perceptions among the university students than the old nomenclature. Epilepsy was the exception for which the old nomenclature conferred a more positive perception. Further studies on this topic involving a more general population should be advocated to confirm the improvements in perception with the new naming system for psychiatric diseases.

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