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Grief is not a disease, but cancer is -- what about erectile dysfunction?
Date:12/4/2012

"Understanding peoples' attitudes about whether states of being should be considered diseases can inform social discourse regarding a number of contentious social and health public policy issues," says Kari Tikkinen, MD, PhD, corresponding author of the FIND Survey.

All Finns think that myocardial infarction, breast cancer, malaria and pneumonia are diseases. People are equally unanimous that wrinkles, grief and homosexuality are not diseases. What about drug addiction or absence of sexual desire? Or erectile dysfunction, infertility or obesity?

"The word disease seems to be as difficult to define as beauty, truth or love, although the concept of disease lies at the heart of medicine," Tikkinen says.

Currently on leave from the Helsinki University Central Hospital, Tikkinen works as a visiting research fellow at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

The FIND Survey examined, across a wide range of conditions, which should be classified as a disease. The respondents included four relevant stakeholders: laypeople, doctors, nurses and legislators.

Perceptions of disease were surveyed using a questionnaire that listed 60 states of being related to health and well-being, from breast cancer and pneumonia to burnout, grief and wrinkles. Using a 5-point Likert-scale ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree", the respondents were asked to evaluate whether states of being should be considered diseases and be funded through public revenue.

The survey was sent to 6,200 Finns: 1,500 doctors, 1,500 nurses, 3,000 laypeople and the 200 members of the Parliament of Finland. The doctors and nurses were randomly selected from the databases of their professional organisations and the laypeople from the Finnish Population Register. A total of 3,280 people responded to the survey (53%).

The 60 states of being presented in this survey included 12 that at least 80 percent of the respondents
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Contact: Dr. Kari Tikkinen
kari.tikkinen@fimnet.fi
358-046-908-5251
University of Helsinki
Source:Eurekalert  

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