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Collaborative diagnosis between clinician and patient: why to do it and what to consider

  • Corinna Hackmann (a1), Jon Wilson (a2), Amorette Perkins (a3) and Hannah Zeilig (a4)

This article discusses findings from the literature and our own research related to the experience of the diagnostic process in mental healthcare, primarily from the perspective of patients, and it focuses on the benefits of collaboration. A common finding throughout our research is that, if a diagnostic process is undertaken, the majority of patients want to be actively involved and feel valued in it. This helps ensure that they find the process and the resulting diagnosis to be meaningful, informative and useful. We believe that collaboration could also mitigate some of the reported negative unintended consequences of diagnosis, including feeling stigmatised, labelled and disempowered. Our work has led us to conceive of diagnosis as having two overarching elements: the diagnostic process and the resulting diagnostic label. This article focuses specifically on the diagnostic process; we do not consider here the debate surrounding the evidence base for the validity of psychiatric classification.


After reading this article you will be able to:

  • understand patients' experiences of the diagnostic process
  • achieve a shared and collaborative diagnostic process with patients
  • reflect on potential barriers and facilitators to collaborative diagnosis in your own practice.



Corresponding author
Correspondence: Dr Corinna Hackmann, Research and Development, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Hellesdon Hospital, Drayton High Road, Norwich NR6 5BE, UK. Email:
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BJPsych Advances
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Collaborative diagnosis between clinician and patient: why to do it and what to consider

  • Corinna Hackmann (a1), Jon Wilson (a2), Amorette Perkins (a3) and Hannah Zeilig (a4)
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