WHO and ICD-11

Well, today is officially the first day of classes. At this point, I’m beginning to question my sanity, but there is no way to go but forward. Since we lost a day to a holiday, albeit an important and valid one, and it’s also the summer semester, I have four days to clear the first lesson in both classes. Go team?

I saw some headlines this morning about a new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) from the World Health Organization. I, uh, don’t really know how much attention the American health care system pays to the WHO or ICD, but it’s made some changes that I find interesting.

Before we go there, though, I was trying to find a list of changes and found the original announcement. It’s from June of 2018. Of course, it was announced then that it would be presented for adoption in May 2019, which is presumably why we’re talking about it now. Even if approved, the announcement says it wouldn’t technically be in effect until 2022. Even then, this is specifically for tracking outcomes and broad strokes statistics. I’m not sure it’s intended to be a guide to diagnosis or treatment.

The change I see that’s getting the most attention is even listed in the announcement itself. “Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders.” Here’s a link to that specific entry.

6C51 Gaming disorder


  • Disorders due to addictive behaviours

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:

  1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
  2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
  3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

Overall, I believe I’m okay with this description. Not that my opinion is relevant or important, but it’s obviously an issue close to home for many of us. While I do not consider games to be significantly more addicting than any other particular activity, many of us have either qualified at some point in the past, or known someone who has. For those that do need help, it’s nice to see some recognition that the problem at least “exists” in the official sense.

Other notable changes I’m not hearing much about are the movement of gender-related codes from the “Mental, behavioural or neurodevelopmental disorders” over to its own section, “Conditions related to sexual health.”

I’m also seeing some headlines that QD85 Burn-out, as related to (un)employment, is new, but I was able to find it in ICD-10 as well. It does look like it was moved, however, and specifically states that it “refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” It was previously located under “Problems related to life management difficulty.”

It’s nice to see the general trend towards viewing workplace stress factors as medical conditions. Maybe in a decade or two, it’ll actually have some impact. All this is technically for statistical tracking, after all.

I reckon that’s enough rambling for today though. Y’all take care, and remember you can be officially coded as having work-related burnout in only a few years.

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