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Study Guide to DSM-5.: Laura Weiss Roberts, MD, MA, and Alan K. Louie, MD, Eds. (2015) Arlington, VA American Psychiatric Publishing. 534 pp.

Stilger, Bradley MD; Riba, Michelle MD, MS

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: March 2016 - Volume 204 - Issue 3 - p 245
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000439
Book Reviews

Chief Resident Department of Psychiatry University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI

Professor and Associate Chair for Integrated Medical and Psychiatric Services Department of Psychiatry University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI

For professionals who work with individuals affected by mental disorders, the recent publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has presented us with both an opportunity and a challenge: an opportunity to modernize one’s conceptual framework of mental diagnoses as elucidated by the experienced leaders in our field and a challenge in learning, understanding, and applying the novel concepts introduced in DSM-5.

To this challenge, enter the Study Guide to DSM-5, authored by Laura Weiss Roberts, MD, MA, and Alan K Louie, MD. As stated in the introduction, the “Study Guide to DSM-5 aims to help translate the printed diagnostic criteria of DSM-5 into the lived experiences of patients” (page xvi). Throughout the book, this self-stated mission is expanded also to one of education, providing the reader with tips and guidance for understanding, applying, and ultimately remembering DSM-5 criteria and diagnoses. In pursuit of this goal, each chapter concludes with a useful self-assessment, including short-answer or multiple-choice questions (with answers), as well as further points to be discussed or debated with colleagues during supervision or over coffee. In some parts of the book (discussed below), these self-assessments become even more comprehensive and rigorous, adding even more to their utility as a learning tool.

Part I of Study Guide for DSM-5 provides for the reader a foundational discussion of the principles underlying psychiatric (and other) diagnoses: the attributes of a diagnosis, how a diagnosis can be tested over time, diagnoses as a means of communication within the mental health field, and, quite insightfully, a discussion regarding how, from a patient’s perspective, a diagnosis can be interpreted as either a gift or a burden. The authors continue their foundational discussion with a useful analysis of the clinical interview and case formulation using a biopsychosocial model, including tips on approaching the psychiatric interview. Chapter 3 provides even more context for the structural framework of the DSM, with an exploration of the epidemiological and phenomenological concepts that exist behind the categorical diagnostic system that has emerged for use in clinical practice.

Part II of Study Guide for DSM-5 comprises the vast majority of the book’s content in terms of volume. It is here that the DSM-5 diagnostic classes are explored in detail for the reader, with a structural arrangement mirroring that of DSM-5. Each chapter in part II follows a similar structure, with an introduction to each diagnostic class (e.g., Chapter 5, “Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders, page 71) followed by in-depth discourse pertaining to the major diagnoses within each diagnostic class (e.g., “Brief Psychotic Disorder, page 80).

It is within these “In-Depth Diagnosis” sections, full of detail and description, that the book begins to stand out as an educational resource. Each section begins with a brief hypothetical case history. This is followed by ideas about how to approach the diagnosis, advice on how to take the history (tailored for each diagnosis), and tips for how to clarify the diagnosis in more uncertain scenarios. The section ends with an extensive case presentation and discussion, a description of the relevant differential diagnoses, and summary points. These In-Depth Diagnosis sections are easy to read and well organized, true to the book’s mandate as a “study guide.”

Each chapter centered on a DSM-5 diagnostic class (part II of the book) concludes with a summary, diagnostic pearls, and rigorous self-assessment materials. In addition to the short-answer, multiple-choice, and discussion questions (as discussed above), during this part of the book the reader may also encounter lists of key concepts to review and comprehensive case-based questions. Unsurprisingly, these self-assessment tools are appropriately challenging and do well to illuminate key concepts to the reader.

True to its mission, Study Guide to DSM-5 serves as an invaluable companion to DSM-5. The book is well organized and expertly written and will be an excellent resource for students, residents, those studying for board examinations (part III of Study Guide to DSM-5 includes 115 multiple-choice questions), or clinicians wishing to broaden their knowledge base and familiarize themselves with DSM diagnoses. In the introduction, the authors describe their work as “learner-friendly,” and they seem to have hit the mark. Whether it be for the office shelf or the clinic workroom, this is a book you should possess.

Bradley Stilger, MD

Chief Resident

Department of Psychiatry

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI

Michelle Riba, MD, MS

Professor and Associate Chair for Integrated

Medical and Psychiatric Services

Department of Psychiatry

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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