How do we define the term idiopathic?

Seema A Tirlapur, Lee Priest, Jane P Daniels, Khalid S Khan, MEDAL Study Management Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The term idiopathic is often used to describe a disease with no identifiable cause. It may be a diagnosis of exclusion; however, what specific minimum investigations need to be performed to define idiopathic is not always clear. This commentary describes the problems inherent in reaching a definition for the term idiopathic.

RECENT FINDINGS: There is limited literature describing methodology to define a condition with no clear diagnostic criteria. This article offers chronic pelvic pain (CPP) syndrome as an example, in which structured qualitative interviews, literature searches and group consensus discussions were undertaken to produce a working definition for idiopathic CPP.

SUMMARY: It is important to correctly develop these standardized definitions for use as outcome measures in research and as clinical indicators in healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-73
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Chronic Pain
  • Consensus
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Qualitative Research
  • Reference Standards
  • Terminology as Topic


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