National Institute of Corrections
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Avoiding the Overdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder in Correctional Populations

by Melissa S. Caldwell, Ph.D., is Director of Mental Health Services, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc.

ABSTRACT:   Correctional health care providers should be conscious of the dangers of labeling patients with a severe mental illness such as bipolar disorder that is based more on impressions than adequate evidence. Key factors include a firm grounding in the phenomenology of genuine mental illness and a willingness to invest resources to buy time toward an accurate diagnosis. In doing so, practitioners actually preserve resources while gaining confidence that patients are being cared for correctly. Although diagnostic certainty can be challenging, correctional practitioners can avoid the pitfalls of overdiagnosis and improve the state of care not only in the correctional setting, but also in the community at large. Likely causes of overdiagnosis include practitioners’ interviewing styles, use of incomplete data, emphasis on certain symptoms, and neglect of important time frames.




Posted Fri, Mar 11 2011 3:48 PM by Tracey Vessels

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