Consequences of health condition labelling: Protocol for a systematic scoping review

Rebecca Sims, Luise Kazda, Zoe A. Michaleff, Paul Glasziou, Rae Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction When health conditions are labelled it is often to classify and communicate a set of symptoms. While diagnostic labelling can provide explanation for an individual's symptoms, it can also impact how individuals and others view those symptoms. Despite existing research regarding the effects of labelling health conditions, a synthesis of these effects has not occurred. We will conduct a systematic scoping review to synthesise the reported consequences and impact of being given a label for a health condition from an individual, societal and health practitioner perspective and explore in what context labelling of health conditions is considered important. Methods and analysis The review will adhere to the Joanna Briggs Methodology for Scoping Reviews. Searches will be conducted in five electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Cochrane, CINAHL). Reference lists of included studies will be screened and forward and backward citation searching of included articles will be conducted. We will include reviews and original studies which describe the consequences for individuals labelled with a non-cancer health condition. We will exclude hypothetical research designs and studies focused on the consequences of labelling cancer conditions, intellectual disabilities and/or social attributes. We will conduct thematic analyses for qualitative data and descriptive or meta-analyses for quantitative data where appropriate. Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval is not required for a scoping review. Results will be disseminated via publication in a peer-reviewed journal, conference presentations and lay-person summaries on various online platforms. Findings from this systematic scoping review will identify gaps in current understanding of how, when, why and for whom a diagnostic label is important and inform future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere037392
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


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