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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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91. Heuristic bias in diagnosing bipolar disorder: Evidence from Korea in favor of weighting model

The DSM adopts a polythetic model of diagnostic decision making. However, previous research indicated that clinicians might rather follow a weighting model (presence of prototypical symptoms) in diagnosing bipolar disorder (BD). This may contribute to underdiagnosis of BD. The present study investigated if Korean clinical psychologists (N=202) were also susceptible to such diagnostic bias. Participants were instructed to make a diagnostic decision after reading a case vignette. All four vignettes described a case with BD according to the DSM-5 criteria; however, they varied in terms of presence/absence of decreased sleep need and life event (causal explanation). There were two major findings. First, contrary to previous research in which only a minority diagnosed BD, most Korean clinical psychologists (88%) diagnosed BD. Second, the case vignettes with the ‘decreased need for sleep’ had a higher likelihood of BD diagnosis, replicating previous research. Meanwhile, presence/absence of life event did not systematically affect the diagnostic decision. In summary, these results add support for the notion that presence of a prototypical symptom affects likelihood of BD diagnosis, nevertheless the total number of symptoms was equal. In addition, increased overall rate of BD diagnosis may suggest better recognition of BD lately.

Bin-Na Kim
Seoul National University

Thomas Meyer
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, McGovern Medical School, University of Texas Health Science Center

Ji-Hae Kim
Department of Psychiatry, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine

Eun-Ho Lee
Department of Psychiatry, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine


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