In one of the worst examples of health reporting I’ve seen today, a bunch of news outlets have equated “symptoms of a disorder” with having the disorder itself. It may seem like a subtle difference, but in the world of mental health diagnosis, having a symptom of a disorder is not the same as having the disorder itself.
The study in question was conducted on people seeking treatment for a nose job. To assess patients’ psychopathology, the researchers administered a bunch of psychological tests to the patients before their rhinoplasty. One of those tests was the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale modified for body dysmorphic disorder.
Now, the researchers only found a 2 percent rate of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) among the 226 patients they tested. That rate is right in line with expectations for this disorder.
But they found a significant 33 percent of patients scored in the “moderate to severe” range of symptom severity on the modified Yale-Brown test.
Health reporters and their editors apparently didn’t understand or appreciate this distinction.
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