Contesting medicalisation, doubting the diagnosis: Patients' ambivalence towards the diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Whereas social scientific studies have investigated the emergence of the category Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), the most commonly diagnosed sleep disorder, no study has examined whether and how the ways in which OSA emerged affect patients' reception of the diagnosis. This article fills this gap by drawing upon in-depth interviews with 65 Israelis who received a laboratory diagnosis of OSA. This study finds that many patients doubt the accuracy of their diagnosis, and argues that this scepticism derives from contested macro-level medicalisation processes that preceed and surround the development of OSA as a diagnostic category. Specifically, past and present controversies over the definitions of OSA and its precursor the 'Pickwickian syndrome' created images of 'OSA patients' as sleepy and obese. Consequently, patients whose self-perception conflicted with this image questioned their diagnosis. Other patients argued that one night of sleep at a laboratory could not reflect their quality of sleep at home, thereby implicitly criticising the ways in which OSA was medicalised. This study enhances our understanding of the underexplored dynamics between the macro and micro levels of medicalisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-730
Number of pages16
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume37
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness.

Keywords

  • Diagnosis
  • Medicalisation
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
  • Patients' ambivalence
  • Sleep medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Contesting medicalisation, doubting the diagnosis: Patients' ambivalence towards the diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this