Egenis seminar with Dr Michael Morrison, 'Diagnosis as justification for intervention: A case study of childhood short stature'
Dr Michael Morrison, Egenis
University of Exeter,Egenis,Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJ
Room no: GF7
Time: 3:00 - 4:30pm
Sociologically, diagnosis has long been recognised as both a classificatory system and a process. It is also a site at which calculations of entitlement - to occupy the sick role and be granted access to the resources of biomedicine – are enacted. Diagnostic technologies play an important role in this process of calculation by providing particular indices of measurement with which to read the internal and external body of the patient. In doing so, they help frame the boundaries between wellness and disease. This paper takes childhood short stature as a case study to investigate this relationship between diagnosis and justification for medical intervention. There are a range of different categories of childhood short stature that routinely qualify a patient for treatment with human growth hormone to boost height and growth rate. These include diagnostic categories almost universally accepted by physicians to the highly contested and controversial treatment of ‘normal short’ stature. Drawing on data from interviews with contemporary paediatric endocrinologists, I examine the ways in which they drew on diagnostic terminology, and especially particular instruments of measurement, to explain the rationale for treatment across this spectrum of diagnostic categories of childhood short stature. Finally, I argue that three key components that determine whether a diagnostic category is considered legitimate or not can be identified from the analysis of this discourse.