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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Corey Goldstein, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: The book is an addition to the DSM-IV in that it provides the reader with approaches to differential diagnosis of psychiatric disorders. It is written in four well-organized chapters that include steps in differential diagnosis, decision trees, diagnostic tables, and a symptom index. A unique element is the use of algorithms.
Purpose: The purpose is to improve one's skill in formulating a comprehensive differential diagnosis by presenting the problem from a number of different perspectives. This is certainly a worthy objective as psychiatric disorders can often overlap and may lead a clinician down many roads of possible treatment options. The book meets the author's objectives without problem via all of the methods described in the preface.
Audience: The book is intended for a wide audience of "clinicians" participating in mental healthcare, according to the author. It can be very useful to any student or practitioner of mental health. Clinicians who would benefit most would be psychiatrists and primary care providers.
Features: The book centers on differential diagnosis, as its title indicates. The contents include an approach to thinking about diagnoses, decision trees through symptoms, specific diagnoses with related disorders in table form, and a symptom index. It essentially helps the clinician think about disorders in a more comprehensive manner. The decision trees and algorithms are particularly helpful in that they provide an organization to an often overwhelming amount of information. The authors are quick to point out that approaches are meant to enhance as opposed to replace clinical judgment.
Assessment: This book is very practical. It can be read from cover to cover or used a reference for particular situations. The field of psychiatry can be seen as a mix of science and art. This book is a reflection of this statement in a concise and direct package. It is a welcome addition to the field of psychiatry and I would not hesitate to recommend it.