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February 2013

Validity and Psychiatric Diagnoses

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Psychiatry, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

JAMA Psychiatry. 2013;70(2):138-139. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.273

The publication of DSM-5 looms, attracting criticism even in advance of field trial results or finalization of criteria. Such criticism may ultimately prove singularly productive in that DSM-5 proposes to become a living document. As soon as convincing evidence supports it, diagnostic modification could be implemented without waiting the traditional 15 to 20 years for the next DSM upheaval. Thus, critics are alerted that alternative proposals should be supported with evidence, not opinions. The DeFife et al study1 is a welcome harbinger of events to come, but is their evidence convincing? In general, what will it take to document validity of a proposed new diagnosis?

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