Computer game addiction and co: New classification of diseases announced

Computer game addiction and co: New classification of diseases announced

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World Health Organization publishes ICD-11

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the basis for the classification of diseases and disease statistics worldwide. The ICD is published by the World Health Organization WHO. The WHO recently released the current version ICD-11, which contains around 55,000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death. For the first time, the controversial addiction to computer games has been included as an officially recognized clinical picture.

ICS provides the foundation on which healthcare professionals worldwide can share information. It will be presented for adoption by the member states at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 and will then enter into force on January 1, 2022. The classification model was developed over a decade and now offers significant improvements over previous versions. Improvements include full digitization and a more user-friendly format.

ICD provides important health data and research stimuli

"ICD is a product that WHO is really proud of," reports WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a WHO press release. It enables us to understand more about what makes people sick and what causes them to die. This will enable more effective measures to be taken to prevent this suffering and save lives, explains the Director General.

Lively participation

Healthcare workers from 31 countries were involved in the development. The size of the ICD-11 will be significantly larger. If the ICD-10 was still limited to 14,400 codes, the ICD-11 would be just under 55,000. Even if the new classification will only come into force in 2022, the current publication should already help the health care system in the respective countries to adjust to it.

New content

A whole series of new areas is now covered by the ICD. This includes traditional medicine, for example, which is used by millions of people but is currently not recorded. There is also a new chapter on sexual health, which was previously listed under mental illness. In the section on addiction disorders, the much-discussed video game addiction was classified as a mental illness.

Better user guidance

"A key principle in this revision was to simplify the coding structure and ease of use," explains Dr. Robert Jakob, who is responsible for the classifications and terminologies. This would allow healthcare professionals to understand the conditions more easily and fully.

Cornerstone of health information

"ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will provide an up-to-date overview of disease patterns," added Dr. Lubna Alansari, Deputy Director General for Health Metrics at WHO.

Criticism of video game addiction

Some health experts, social scientists, and researchers from research centers and universities, including Oxford University, consider the introduction of video game addiction to be of concern. According to these expert opinions, the therapeutic, educational and recreational value of games is secured and largely recognized, as stated in an official statement. According to ICD-11, someone is considered a video game addict if

  • there is no control over the duration, frequency and intensity of video games,
  • the games have a higher priority than all other life interests and daily activities,
  • negative consequences of playing are accepted.


Author and source information

Video: WHO classifies Gaming Disorder as mental health condition (June 2022).


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