Advantages and Disadvantages of Diagnostic Labeling

by on September 20th, 2013
Share Button

There are several advantages of classifying mental disorders into types. One is that it makes a clear reference for physicians and healthcare providers when transferring patient care. The referring provider is clearly able to convey the patient’s ailment with one or more universally known classifications. This will tell the receiving provider what the patient is already dealing with, what their possible underlying conditions are and what they are or need to be medicated and treated for.

Another advantage of classifications for clinical reference is billing and insurance. Insurance companies need to know EXACTLY what they are paying for, and if there are any questions, they will either deny or delay care. The classification system speeds up the process and makes it easy for healthcare providers to justify why the patient is being treated.

Basically, the classification system clarifies things for health care providers to speed up patient care and make it more accurate. The clarity of this system can be seen as far back in history as 1899 when Emil Kraepelin published his sixth edition of his “textbook” for classifying mental illness. This book classified mental disorders in 13 categories ranging from mild disorders with a positive prognosis to severe disorders with, well, not-so-positive prognosis. (Goodwin, 2008).

A disadvantage of classifying mental disorders and maintaining the taxonomy for clinical reference is that if a new healthcare provider for a patient is relying solely on old taxonomy to treat the patient, they might have inaccurate or even wrong information. The classification of a mental disorder relies on the intent, theoretical orientation and experiences of the initial interviewer. Anyone seeking mental treatment in a clinical setting should attempt to get a second opinion on what their treatment options. (Classification of Mental Disorders, 2011).

There is another significant disadvantage to diagnostic labeling for school age children. Although it is intended for good; to get the child the proper help and special education they may require, the stigma that comes with many labels can have an adverse effect on the child’s education. Studies show that a teacher’s expectations of a child are directly linked to how well the child actually performs in school. Unfortunately, too many teachers are setting their academic and behavioral expectations low for students who are diagnosed with conditions such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).


James Goodwin. (2008). A History of Modern Psychology: Chapter 12, Mental Illness and It’s Treatment. Retrieved on Oct. 6, 2011. From the University of Phoenix eCampus Library.

Classification of Mental Disorders. (2011). Retrieved on Oct. 6, 2011. From .

Henley, Ramsey, & Algozzine. (2009). Labeling and Disadvantages of Labeling. Retrieved on Oct. 9, 2011. From

Prev Article: »
Next Article: «

Related Articles