How interested in classification are British and American psychiatrists and how have they chosen to study it over the last 50 years?

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Aims and Methods: The general conceptual issues involved in psychiatric classification seem to be increasingly neglected in contrast to a focus on specific and empirical aspects which appear to have come to dominate the study of classification in the field. This article explores how the psychiatric field (in the UK and US) has chosen to analyse classification over time. Publication trends of articles in both The American Journal of Psychiatry and The British Journal of Psychiatry over a fifty year period (1960-2010) can be viewed as indicators of the levels of interest within the psychiatric field toward classification. In an exploratory analysis, articles explicitly focusing on classification were counted and further sub-divided according to whether they focused on empirical or conceptual aspects and whether they adopted a general perspective or focused on a more specific aspect of classification. Results: Interest in classification was apparent in a minority of published articles (4.7% of all published articles). Interest in conceptual aspects dropped throughout the fifty years and was found to be considerably less than for empirical approaches which steadily increased over time. General papers about classification have been gradually on the decline and have been increasingly outnumbered by more specifically-focused articles. Clinical Implication: Classification, as a foundational endeavour within the psychiatric field, requires increased attention in the literature. This literature should address conceptual as well as empirical issues.
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Archival date: 2013-09-14
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