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Diagnosis and classification 

Diagnosis and classification
Chapter:
Diagnosis and classification
Author(s):

Michael B. First

and Harold Alan Pincus

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199696758.003.0014
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date: 25 August 2019

In Psychiatry, as in all of medicine, diagnosis is a key function and central to developing a plan of treatment for patients. Psychiatry, however, faces special challenges. The etiopathogenesis of most psychiatric disorders is not known. For the most part, a clinician must rely on reports from, and direct observation of patients to gather the necessary information to determine a diagnosis. Until very recently, laboratory tests had little relevance. Even diagnostic information found in medical records may not be useful, since the clinician cannot ascertain whether the historically recorded diagnoses of previous clinicians were based on reliable observations, the application of similar diagnostic approaches, or even the same system of classification. These special challenges faced by the field have ensured that diagnosis and classification in psychiatry has a long and rich history.

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