11:59pm Tuesday 26 May 2020

Penn Medicine Selected as Field Trial Site for DSM-5

PHILADELPHIA – Penn Medicine has been selected as one of seven adult field trial sites to test proposed diagnostic criteria for the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Used by health professionals around the world, DSM is the manual that provides descriptions, symptoms and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. Penn Medicine is participating in field trials to help assess the practical use of proposed DSM-5 criteria in real-world clinical settings.

“We are honored to be selected as one of the field trial sites,” said Mahendra T. Bhati, MD, assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who will lead the field trials at Penn Medicine. According to the APA, the selection process was very competitive; only 11 organizations were chosen from the 65 that submitted proposals to be considered for a field trial site.

Clinicians participating in the field trials will evaluate new and existing patients at different stages of treatment using the proposed DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and measures. Penn Medicine clinicians will focus particularly on proposed updates related to general anxiety disorder, OCD and hoarding, anxious depression, and binge eating disorders, along with general diagnostic criteria for personality disorders.

The field trial design will address several important aspects of the proposed diagnostic criteria, including:

  • Feasibility: are the proposed criteria easy for clinicians to understand and to use?
  • Clinical Utility: do the proposed criteria do a good job in describing patients’ psychiatric problems and help clinicians make decisions about treatment plans?
  • Reliability: are the same conclusions reached consistently when the criteria are used by different clinicians?
  • Validity: how accurately do the diagnostic criteria reflect the mental disorders they are designed to describe?

In addition, the field trials will test new tools that help clinicians evaluate the severity of symptoms and measure whether patients are improving over time, such as “cross-cutting dimensional assessments,” to measure symptoms that occur across a wide range of diagnoses (i.e. sleep problems).

“Psychiatrists at Penn Medicine demonstrate the highest level of expertise in mental health research and clinical care,” said David Kupfer, MD, chair of the DSM-5 Task Force. “This field trial research is a part of a critical phase in development of DSM-5 and will give us the information we need to better understand how the proposed revisions affect clinicians’ practices and, most importantly, patient care.”

The field trials follow a public comment period in which more than 8,000 written comments on the draft diagnostic criteria were submitted to the DSM-5 web site by clinicians, researchers and family and patient advocates. Submitted comments were reviewed by DSM-5 Work Groups and resulted in further refinement of the criteria. The field trial results will help improve the criteria and provide invaluable information for DSM-5, to be released in May 2013.

More information on all of the participating field trial sites and the specific disorders being tested is available on www.dsm5.org.



Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $3.6 billion enterprise. 

Penn’s School of Medicine is currently ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools, and is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $367.2 million awarded in the 2008 fiscal year. 

Penn Medicine’s patient care facilities include:

  • The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – the nation’s first teaching hospital, recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center – named one of the top 100 hospitals for cardiovascular care by Thomson Reuters for six years.
  • Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751, nationally recognized for excellence in orthopaedics, obstetrics & gynecology, and psychiatry & behavioral health. 

Additional patient care facilities and services include Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse, a Philadelphia campus offering inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient care in many specialties; as well as a primary care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care and hospice services; and several multispecialty outpatient facilities across the Philadelphia region.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2009, Penn Medicine provided $733.5 million to benefit our community.

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