Checklist vs. Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): Mental Health Service Debate

Reported May 17, 2012

 (Ivanhoe Newswire) – One in every four American adults will have a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition this year. Paul R. McHugh, M.D., and Phillip R. Slavney, M.D. of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say the debate over revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) could shape the nature and scope of psychiatric services for mental health patients for years to come.

The DSM has been established as the master reference work for U.S. psychiatrists. In its third edition in 1980 (DSM-III), the DSM began prescribing how clinicians should identify psychiatric disorders. The editors of the DSM-III concluded that the various explanations of mental illness could be cleared up if psychiatrists put aside their disputes over causes and instead identified disorders by their symptoms, signs, and clinical course.”

“Although it has been repeatedly postponed, the publication of a fifth revision of the DSM is now promised in 2013. Dr. McHugh and Dr. Slavney say that identifying a disorder by its symptoms does not translate into understanding it. They say only the assessment of patients, which was standard before the publication of the DSM-III, can bring the relevant causal factors to light. Symptom checklists will never suffice.

SOURCES: New England Journal of Medicine, May 2012.

Retrieved 07/08/12

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