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How the DSM Is Used in Clinical Practice

First, Michael B., MD*; Erlich, Matthew D., MD*; Adler, David A., MD*; Leong, Shirley, PhD; Dixon, Lisa B., MD, MPH*; Oslin, David W., MD*; Goldman, Beth, MD, MPH*; Koh, Steve, MD, MPH, MBA*; Levine, Bruce, MD*; Berlant, Jeffrey L., MD, PhD*; Siris, Samuel G., MD*

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: March 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 3 - p 157–161
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000953
Review Article

Despite widespread use, how clinicians use the DSM in psychiatric practice is not well understood. Recognizing public and professional attitudes toward the DSM are integral to future DSM development, to assess a commonly held assumption such as that the DSM is used primarily for coding, and to assess its clinical utility. A convenience sample of Psychiatric Times readers was surveyed to assess the DSM's use in clinical practice. A total of 394 behavioral health care practitioners fully completed the online survey. Results suggest that the DSM, beyond administrative and billing use, is used for communication with health care providers, for teaching diagnoses to trainees, and, importantly, as an educational tool to inform patients and caregivers alike.

*Psychopathology Committee of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, New York, New York; and

MIRECC, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Send reprint requests to Michael B. First, MD, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive - Unit 60, New York, NY 10032. E-mail:

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