Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Medical terminology

Yesterday I read an article on the BBC news website claiming that the term schizophrenia is invalid. The article points out that schizophrenia is not a single but a multitude of syndromes. The problem with the word is that given that it is understood to be a single syndrome, many patients are treated in a "one cure fits all" fashion. This is tragic as schizophrenia is seen as something that cannot be treated which is not necessarily true.

As we do not have much medical data yet, I have added the word to WiktionaryZ. WiktionaryZ will soon include an important resource of medical data, the UMLS. This will certainly include words like schizophrenia. I have added the resource that I created the definition on. With such a large body of medical terminology, it can be expected that many people will find their way to WiktionaryZ to learn what this medical terminology is. These people in turn will be interested in creating definitions that are consistent with what the scientific field considers something to be.

The word schizophrenia is well entrenched, it has a specific meaning to the laymen and my understanding from the BBC article is, that many professionals also need to learn about the ambiguity of the term. The question is, when is there enough support to depreciate the old meaning from a well known word like schizophrenia.. How will peer review work out in a wiki and how will the "public" react to these definitions..


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