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Comment & Response
December 2017

Considerations Concerning Disease Redefinition

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Epidemiology, JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
  • 2Department of Social Medicine and Health Education, School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(12):1872-1873. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.6139

To the Editor In a Special Communication published in a recent issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, Doust et al1 raised timely concerns about modifying disease definitions, which, in essence, addresses what constitutes a disease and is a fundamental question for modern medicine where diseases are often diagnosed without symptoms and signs. However, the checklist proposed mixed the criteria for modifying a disease definition (items 6 through 8 in Table 2) with the reasons (item 3) and consequences (items 1, 2, and 4) of making the change. For defining a disease, the risk of the condition and the benefits and harms of interventions should be set as primary determinants.

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