Is there any major difference between the two classification systems ? and why is there no awareness as of yet about research based domain for classifying mental disorders when it for the larger part focuses more on - neurobiological tests which indeed could tell us more about that disorder on various parameters . thankyou


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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) are clinical diagnostic and classification criteria for clinical work.

The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative is a research framework for investigating mental disorders. It integrates many levels of information (from genomics and circuits to behaviour and self-reports) in order to explore basic dimensions of functioning that span the full range of human behaviour from normal to abnormal. For more information, visit the About RDoC page.

In contrast to existing diagnostic guidelines, which are used for clinical purposes, RDoC is a research framework meant for supporting biobehavioral approaches for studying mental disorders. It is not for diagnosing mental disorders or for clinical practice. Studies that use the RDoC framework could lead to more knowledge of the mechanisms and processes in mental health and mental disorders. This information could help inform future diagnostic criteria (National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)).

The concept behind the RDoC initiative can be seen as an extension to the debate over the level of real scientific research in psychology and psychiatry.

I have covered this extensively in my answer to a meta question on the subject.

On April 29, 2013, a few weeks before the publication of the latest version of the DSM (DSM-5), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), NIMH director Thomas Insel published a blog post critical of the methodology of the DSM and highlighting the improvement offered by the RDoC project (Insel, 2013).

It is good to debate things like this and I have no objection to debating the subject which in effect is what the NIMH is doing with this initiative (Insel & Lieberman 2013] emphasis below mine).

Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director, NIMH
Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D., president-elect, APA

NIMH and APA have a shared interest in ensuring that patients and health providers have the best available tools and information today to identify and treat mental health issues, while we continue to invest in improving and advancing mental disorder diagnostics for the future.

Today, the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), along with the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) represents the best information currently available for clinical diagnosis of mental disorders. Patients, families, and insurers can be confident that effective treatments are available and that the DSM is the key resource for delivering the best available care. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has not changed its position on DSM-5. As NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project website states, “The diagnostic categories represented in the DSM-IV and the International Classification of Diseases-10 (ICD-10, containing virtually identical disorder codes) remain the contemporary consensus standard for how mental disorders are diagnosed and treated.”

The same applies now with DSM-5 and the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11). The DSM and RDoC could be used in combination, as the APA uses all research available to formulate their diagnostic criteria anyway.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) is the product of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in all aspects of mental health. Their dedication and hard work have yielded an authoritative volume that defines and classifies mental disorders in order to improve diagnoses, treatment, and research (APA, 2013).


APA. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub. https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm

Insel, T. R. (2013). Post by Former NIMH Director Thomas Insel: Transforming Diagnosis National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

Insel, T. R. & Lieberman, J. A. (2013). DSM-5 and RDoC: Shared Interests (Press release). American Psychiatric Association. http://publichealthunited.org/pressreleases/DSM5andRDoCSharedInterests.pdf


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