WHO Classifies Workplace BURNOUT as MEDICAL CONDITION in ICD Database

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These days where people are living in a more connected and global world, there comes the need for a given standard or several for people to follow. It could be the metric system of measurement, or an official list of what medical conditions can be classified as diseases. Such a database is under the purview of the United Nations (UN) agency, the World Health Organization (WHO). In a recent gathering on world health, the WHO has made landmark official recognition of a condition suffered by many people around the world, gotten from their places of work: what is called “burnout.”

ABS-CBN News has it that during the World Health Assembly that concluded Tuesday, May 28 in Geneva Switzerland, the World Health Organization added workplace burnout to their International Classification of Diseases (ICD) database, thus recognizing it as a valid medical condition and providing a definitive guideline for medical practitioners to identify its symptoms. The ICD is a major resource for the global medical community for aid in patient diagnosis. Health insurance companies also consult the database. The official definition of burnout by the WHO is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

The new ICD classification also provides three characterizations of workplace burnout to aid in any medical diagnosis of it. First, the patient should be experiencing “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.” Second, he should also be exhibiting “increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.” Finally, these symptoms should also be resulting in a “reduced professional efficacy” of the patient under diagnosis. There is one caveat to the description, and that is that the above symptoms should be within the patient’s experiences from his occupation, and not borne out of other events in his life, outside work.

Actions taken to have workplace burnout added as a medical condition, which involved discussion and recommendations from world health experts in the International Classification of Diseases has ensured that it would be included in the drafting of an updated database since last year. Approval was given last Saturday, May 25, for the finalized new ICD-11 version. WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic notes that this was the first time burnout was proposed for inclusion in the database, and it had made it in on its first attempt.

ICD-11 will take effect in the year 2022. Aside from workplace burnout, other standout additions in official medical conditions include the listing of “excessive video-gaming” as an addiction and “excessive sexual behavior” as a mental disorder. Meanwhile, “transgenderism” was moved from mental disorders to medical conditions related to sexual health.

Image courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times

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