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Child psychiatrists' views of DSM-III-R: a survey of usage and opinions.

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  • 1College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY.


The DSM-IV Child Psychiatry Work Group surveyed 460 child psychiatrists about their use of DSM-III-R and their reactions to specific proposed nosological revisions for DSM-IV. This paper presents the responses of the sample as a whole and of respondent subgroups with different theoretical, practice, and training characteristics. The survey indicates that DSM-III and DSM-III-R are widely used and generally accepted by child psychiatrists. Ninety-eight percent of respondents believe a criterion-based diagnostic system is useful, and 65% consider DSM-III-R to be an improvement over DSM-III. Depending on the diagnosis 47% to 66% of the respondents reported that they generally assess all applicable criteria and 28% to 49% often refer to the manual before assigning a diagnosis. A majority of respondents supported proposals for several new diagnostic subtypes. Ninety-three percent of respondents indicated that "adequacy of family support" was very valuable for treatment planning or estimating prognosis. Fifty-five percent of respondents admitted to diagnosing adjustment disorders in order to avoid the stigma associated with other disorders. Child psychiatrists who are psychodynamically oriented or practicing in an office-based setting or out of training for more than 10 years tend to use the DSM-III-R less rigorously.

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