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Diagnosing comorbidity: concepts, criteria, and methods

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Samet S, Nunes EV, Hasin D. Diagnosing comorbidity: concepts, criteria, and methods. Background: 

The clinical and etiologic implications of comorbid psychiatric and substance-use disorders are relevant across countries and cultures. The DSM-IV now places greater emphasis on the clinical and research utility of the substance-induced disorders classification, and clarifies several important diagnostic issues specific to primary and substance-induced disorders. However, no research consensus exists over the core problem of identifying and differentiating the drug and alcohol intoxication and withdrawal symptoms that can mimic psychiatric symptoms in heavy drinkers and drug users. Objective: 

To investigate how various diagnostic instruments have measured comorbid psychiatric and substance-use disorders and how each instrument operationalizes the DSM-IV classification. Method: 

We review the evolution of the concept of comorbidity beginning with its formalization as the ‘primary–secondary’ distinction in the Feighner Criteria. We address the ‘organic–non-organic’ distinction found in the RDC, DSM-III, and DSM-III-R; and finally, review the ‘primary’ and ‘substance-induced’ categories of DSM-IV, DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10. We describe how these distinctions have been operationalized in widely used diagnostic instruments. Conclusion: 

Further understanding of these classifications and the rela-tionship of co-occurring psychiatric and substance disorders can be accom-plished with the range of available measures, particularly the Psychiatric Research Interview for Substance and Mental Disorders (PRISM), which reliably utilizes and refines DSM-IV classification distinctions.
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Keywords: diagnostic criteria; diagnostic interviews; dual diagnosis; psychiatric comorbidity; substance-induced disorders

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New York State Psychiatric Institute;

Publication date: 01 February 2004

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